A group of Republican senators, led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), have called for an immediate travel ban between the United States and the People’s Republic of China in response to a mysterious respiratory illness spreading throughout China, and now, some U.S. states.
The illness, which has been reported since mid-October, is said to be particularly hazardous for children and has overwhelmed hospitals in the northern regions of China. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been uncertain whether the outbreak is due to an overall increase in respiratory infections or a new, separate event.
In the letter addressed to President Joe Biden on Friday, the senators expressed their deep concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) history of obfuscation and lack of transparency in public health crises. They referenced the COVID-19 pandemic, where the CCP’s actions deprived the United States of crucial information about the disease and its origins.
“On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued an order to restrict travel from the PRC into the United States to protect the American people and counter the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote. “Many officials and commentators—including you—criticized his decision as being influenced by ‘xenophobia.’ But history and common sense show his decision was the right one.”
“At this moment, the world faces another unknown pathogen emanating from the PRC that could spread to other countries, including the United States,” the letter continued. “The PRC has reported an increase in this mystery illness—which it claims to be pneumonia caused by known pathogens—since mid-October.”
In November, an outbreak of respiratory illnesses was reported in several parts of northern China. Hospitals in areas like Beijing and Liaoning became overwhelmed due to the outbreak. Chinese health authorities have stated that they haven’t detected any unusual or novel pathogens.
The WHO has raised particular concerns about clusters of pneumonia, especially among children in northern China, since mid-October, however. The outbreak has been characterized by unexplained pneumonia cases, which some speculate could be the result of common respiratory infections rebounding.
“This illness reportedly is a special hazard for children and has overrun hospitals in the north of the country,” the letter stated. “The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is unclear if the disease is due to an overall increase in respiratory infections or separate events. If history is any indication, we have cause to be concerned.”
“The WHO has requested that the CCP share “detailed information” about the mystery illness. However, CCP has an incentive to lie, just as they did throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and any new pathogen could derail its efforts to stimulate its economy.”
The letter, also signed by Senators J.D. Vance (R-OH), Rick Scott (R-FL), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Mike Braun (R-IN), criticized the WHO for its “slavish deference” to the CCP and urged the U.S. to take independent action to safeguard American health and the economy.
“That means we should immediately restrict travel between the United States and the PRC until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness. A ban on travel now could save our country from death, lockdowns, mandates, and further outbreaks later,” the Senators finished.