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St. Lucia urges WHO to include Taiwan in coronavirus response

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Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) St. Lucia, one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in the Caribbean, on Wednesday called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow the full participation of Taiwanese authorities in its response to the spread of a deadly new coronavirus.

In a press release, the St. Lucian embassy in Taiwan said that in order to effectively prevent the spread of a virus that "respects no borders," the WHO must "ensure the full involvement of Taiwanese authorities" in its response to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

"Short-term or myopic considerations must not be permitted to impede international information exchange, consultation and collective action," the embassy said in the statement.

According to the embassy, the statement was also sent through official channels to the leadership of the WHO, a body affiliated with the United Nations.

The statement by the Caribbean ally was the latest in a series of international calls issued this week on the matter, including statements by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with the latter floating the suggestion of Taiwan being given observer status in the WHO.

The issue of Taiwan's participation in the coronavirus response was also raised again at a WHO press conference on Wednesday, when Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, was asked whether Taiwan's exclusion constituted a "blind spot" that could contribute to the spread of the virus.

In response, Ryan declined to address the issue of Taiwan's formal inclusion, saying only that the WHO has "Taiwanese experts involved in all of our consultations," including clinical and lab networks.

"They're fully engaged and fully aware of all the developments," he said.

The WHO's emergency committee on the 2019-nCoV is scheduled to meet again Thursday to consider whether to declare the virus a "public health emergency of international concern," which would mandate a range of response measures under international law.

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