LONDON: Britain’s right-wing The Telegraph newspaper has blamed Pakistan for being responsible for 50% of the total imported Corona cases, using Public Health England (PHE) data of only 30 cases since 4 June.
More than 65,000 people have traveled to Britain on 190 flights since March 1 from Pakistan.
A front-page story by The Telegraph with the misleading headline "Half of UK's Imported Covid-19 infections are from Pakistan" is based on substandard evidence and is considered to be biased and unfair towards Pakistan. Labour MP Naz Shah immediately condemned the sensational and misleading headline and a journalist working for the paper admitted there was no evidence available to suggest that Pakistan was responsible for 50 percent of the imported cases
Naz Shah, who serves as the Member of Parliament from Bradford West said: "Last week I was told to go back to Pakistan, today we have articles like this. Any wonder why we still have P*** bashing. Only 30 cases came from Pakistan since 4th June.”
The MP argued that this headline and story had racist undertones, unfairly shifting the blame on UK's failures on Pakistan.
The Telegraph story mentions that "Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that 30 cases of coronavirus in people who have travelled from Pakistan since June 4, which is understood to represent half of the incidents of imported infection."
The same data was picked up by right-wing news outlets, The Sun and The Daily Mail to argue that 50% of imported cases came from Pakistan.
Doctor Syed Khurram Mushtaq Gardezi, a Cardiologist based at Imperial College Healthcare Trust London and a researcher from University of Oxford, strongly refuted these baseless claims.
Dr Gardezi says that UK has the second highest mortality from Covid19 in the world only behind USA. He said: “Taking this into account most of the world countries including European countries have therefore put on travel restrictions for British travellers instead. Such baseless claims are likely to create more problems for British Travellers.”
Dr Gardezi also criticised the right wing lobbyists trying to take advantage of this global pandemic and using it to promote their hidden racist and Islamophobic agenda.
Replying to a request for comment by The News and Geo.TV, Charles Hymas who is the author of this story and also the Home Affairs editor of The Telegraph confirmed that The Telegraph did not have any further evidence or data to back their claims.
Charles Hymas said: "It is based on our understanding of PHE (Public Health England) data. The only information they are providing publicly is that figure."
While the right wing British Media has been criticising repatriation flights from Pakistan, it was the British government and the British High Commission in Islamabad which arranged repatriation flights from Pakistan. Qatar Airways was chosen for these flights with the Pakistani government facilitating the British government.
By 7 May, the day of the last repatriation flight, Pakistan only had 24,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 585 deaths while the UK had 206,000 cases, 10 times more than Pakistan, and 30,000 deaths, 50 times more than Pakistan.
The UK did not screen or quarantine the passengers arriving from various countries until June. Many people believe that the right wing British media is shifting the failures of the Conservative government on Pakistan. Newspapers like Telegraph, Daily Mail and the Sun are considered allies of the Conservative government.
Commenting on the information provided to The Telegraph, a spokesperson for Public Health England told The News it had shared the background information with the Telegraph.
The spokesman said: “Since the 4th June, there have been a small number of cases (approx. 30) detected in the UK with recent travel from Pakistan. This is not unique to the UK and other countries have also recently reported the detection of cases with recent travel to Pakistan. Upon detection of any imported cases, the PHE international contact tracing team follows up any close contacts including on flights and in the UK. Where there may be contacts in the originating country, information is passed on to the respective country under the International Health Regulations (2005) in order to facilitate follow up of contacts in that country.
Travel associated cases of COVID19 are not unexpected as response measures are relaxed globally and international travel resumes.
“In regards to the cases from Pakistan, PHE shared information with Pakistan through the National Focal Point and with the FCO and the British High Commissioner in Pakistan to inform wider discussions with the Government of Pakistan.”
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