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• The COVID-19 outbreak is a global catastrophe of a historic scale. The novel SARStype virus that emerged in Wuhan, China in November or December 2019 has spread
rapidly, due to its very high rate of human-to-human transmission, causing tens of
thousands of deaths and significant disruption to the global economy.
• The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was bound by international law, in the form of
the International Health Regulations (2005), to report timely, accurate and detailed
public health information. However, throughout December 2019 and January 2020,
the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – the government of the PRC – failed in its
obligations to do this. In fact, it appears at least possible that this was a deliberate act
• As a direct consequence of the CCP’s decision to not share information about the
initial stages of the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease spread far faster than it would
otherwise have done and reactions by countries globally were hampered. It is possible
that – had accurate information have been provided at an early juncture – the infection
would not have left China.
• Beyond the human cost of this pandemic, governments globally have responded to
the virus by taking robust economic measures, with entire nations going into various
forms of lockdown. The measures taken by the G7 – the group of the world’s major
advanced economies – amount to £3.2 trillion (US$4 trillion).
• In order to preserve the rules-based international system and to protect taxpayers
from punitive liabilities, the world should seek to take legal action against the PRC for
the breaches of international law and their consequences.