China, which has been indirectly held responsible for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak especially by the Trump administration, has managed to obstruct a discussion on the pandemic in the UN Security Council with help from Russia and South Africa.

The UNSC, under the presidency of China this month, has not yet scheduled any meeting to discuss the rapidly-escalating coronavirus crisis even as the number of COVID-19 cases across the world crossed 5,30,000 and over 24,000 people have died due to the disease.

At 85,653, the US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy. Nearly 13,00 people have died in the US due to the disease.

China’s presidency of the 15-nation Council will end on March 31 and no meeting is scheduled on the programme of work of the Security Council for March to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the rapidly deteriorating situation and the outbreak’s dire health, security and economic consequences on nations.

A UN diplomat told PTI that “the silence of the Council on an issue impacting human security in such a profound manner reflects that it is obviously not fit for purpose for the challenges of our times.”

The Security Council held a video-conference Thursday chaired by China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun and discussed the work of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

A statement issued by the Chinese Mission to UN after the meeting said that Council members “also expressed concern at the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya and called on the parties to de-escalate the fighting urgently, to immediately cease hostilities and to ensure unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout the country.” There was the only reference to the COVID-19 crisis in the entire statement.

The Dominican Republic will assume the Council Presidency for April.

A US State Department official said the Security Council had a unique and important role to play in combating the global coronavirus pandemic that poses major risks to international peace and security.

A draft proposal prepared by Estonia highlights “growing concern about the unprecedented extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in the world, which may constitute a threat to international peace and security.”

The draft also calls for “full transparency” over the outbreak, which clearly refers to growing criticism that China is hiding vital details about origin about the virus.

China’s Mission to the UN tweeted Thursday that COVID-19 “is a common enemy of all of us. China is also a victim. China has successfully contained the spreading of the pandemic and is doing its utmost in helping other countries. We will never accept stigma, discrimination or politicization on this issue.”

Earlier this month, China’s UN Ambassador had said that there is no need to panic over the Coronavirus epidemic and that Beijing does not plan to discuss the situation in the Security Council during its Presidency this month.

(With agency inputs)