Integrating Human Rights Conflicts in COVID-19 Pandemic Prevention and Control
October 12,2020   By:CSHRS
Integrating Human Rights Conflicts in COVID-19 Pandemic Prevention and Control

WANG Xigen * & WANG Wenjing **

Abstract: In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts between the right to life and health and the rights to freedom, economy and equality are inevitable. exploring conflicts of human rights and responding solutions will directly influence the success of the battle against the coronavirus. From the perspective of human rights’ subjects, the conflicts are between young and elder COVID-19 patients, COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, citizens from epidemic center areas and non-epidemic areas. In terms of the content of these rights, the conflict between the right to life and health and the right to econom ic freedom should be resolved based on four principles: priority, the limit of costs, baseline equality, and resto ration of justice. on the value side, the relationship between social order and freedoms should be clarified in five aspects: life, market, security, news, and speech to build a good governance model that can stabilize the order of epidemic preven tion & control order and maintain social vitality.

Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic  · human rights  · value conflicts  · value integration

The global novel coronavirus public health crisis has posed severe challenges and considerable threats to the life and health of people around the world, and had a negative impact on the right to development. Rational anti-pandemic cooperation based on respect for human rights and social solidarity is needed to effectively address the contagion. However, under different governance models and human rights values, conflicts among the rights to life, health and freedom, economic rights, equality, and the rights of different subjects continue to emerge, even causing uncontrollable crises in some major countries. 1 Practice has repeatedly proven that in public health emergencies where the demand for medical resources skyrockets and the intensity of social management and control soars, the integration of conflicting human rights values based on public health rights has great significance for rallying the whole of society to fight the threat and thus the efficiency of efforts to defeat the pathogen. To this end, this thesis strives to reveal, from the perspective of human rights jurisprudence, how to reconcile conflicting human rights with regard to subject, form, and value content under the framework of epidemic prevention and control.

I. Subject-Based Human Rights Conflicts and Their Integration

Human rights are enjoyed by specific subjects, but different subjects may not share human rights in a balanced way. During the novel coronavirus outbreak, the lack of resources to safeguard the rights to life and health and the restrictions of their allocation will inevitably reduce their availability and efficiency for some leading to ten- sions among different subjects. The right to life and health is the primary human rights for which the prevention and control measures are initiated. Here, the right to life and health will be highlighted to analyze conflicts of human rights values among different subjects and the legal principles and methods for the integration of those conflicts.

A. The relationship between the human rights of COvID-19 and nonCOvID-19 patients

Public health emergencies are often fierce and explosive, and can severely impact the medical system of a country and even the world. Even the most advanced national medical systems have not been able to quickly and fully respond to increased demand during the novel coronavirus outbreak. Experience shows that in the early stages when medical systems were on the verge of collapse, normal medical services are channeled to COVID-19 detection and treatment as much as possible. Meanwhile, there are other patients with severe or even life-threatening illnesses waiting to be treated. The treatment for non-COVID-19 patients and COVID-19 patients constitutes a conflict between the respective patients’ rights to life and health. Article 12 of the In-ternational Covenant on economic, Social and Cultural rights unequivocally uses the word “everyone” in stipulating the subjects of the right to health. 2 To realize the right to health for everyone, the covenant stipulates four basic steps, with the fourth step “The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical services and medical attention in the event of sickness,” emphasizing again that this applies to “everyone”.Moreover, “even when resources are very scarce, countries must adopt relatively low- cost targeted programs to protect the disadvantaged members of society, 3 that is, “the most disadvantaged and most marginalized members or groups.” 4 Is this comment applicable to non-COVID-19 patients during the prevention and control period? Is it applicable to all non-COVID-19 patients always? There are of course no answers given to these questions. However, all the four major components of the right to health reflect the basic spirit of equal protection for everyone, that is to ensure “timely medical services to citizens in an emergency” 5 . “Availability” means that a country must have a “sufficient amount” of health resources for all patients. “Accessibility” regards “non-discrimination” as the first prerequisite. Discrimination here means active discrimination involving unreasonable differences, distinctions, and unequal treatment, as well as negative discrimination involving failure to provide corresponding resources and services. So, comprehensive and equal protection is the basic principle for se- curing the right to health in international human rights law.

This thesis believes that the following four basic principles should be upheld in handling conflicts among rights. The first is the principle of classified treatment. In today’s world, there are two medical models: the decentralized model featuring community autonomy and the centralized model under government leadership. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and respective institutional scenarios for application. During public health emergencies such as the novel coronavirus outbreak, it is advisable to draw on their advantages and avoid their shortcomings by combining them. Thus resources should be maximally mobilized for the concentrated isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, treatment should be provided to other patients. Specifically, general patients should be treated at home, the moderately or severely ill should be treated in the community, and the critically ill, especially the terminally ill, should be given unified effective treatment with concentrated high-quality resources. “We must coordinate the medical treatment for COVID-19 and other patients to guarantee treatment for patients with other acute and severe diseases, medication supply for patients with chronic diseases, and accessible channels of treatment for general patients.” 6 The second is the principle of priority. It is indisputable that the priority of prevention and control is higher than non-epidemic needs which should be given up within reasonable limits. So, the key issue is not about which one should be prioritized, but the degree and proportion of prioritization. Prioritization should be defined from two aspects: in terms of quality, medical resources should be allocated for responding to COVID-19 pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus, that is, epidemic prevention and control and the treatment of COVID-19 patients should be prioritized over ordinary patients; in terms of quantity, other patients, especially those with mild symptoms, should transfer some of their rights under such emergency conditions. The transferred rights can be mainly quantified as two types of rights, the right to choose high-quality medical resources and the right to hospital treatment. The third is the bottom-line principle. Giving priority to COVID-19 patients does not mean giving up patients with other diseases. On the contrary, we should uphold the bottom line of providing basic medical services to patients severely ill with diseases other than COVID-19. The medical system should allocate some resources promptly or reserve limited resources to guarantee basic rights such as hospitalization for critically ill patients. Fourth is the principle of derogation. Given the limited or even extreme lack of resources at the peak of the epidemic, a differentiation should be implemented among non-COVID-19 patients: the rights of critically ill patients should not be reduced, the rights of non-critically ill patients can be curtailed to retain necessary resources for COVID-19 patients.

The legal boundary of human rights derogation is the protection of the right to life. When the right to life is endangered by a public health emergency, it should be the focus and other human rights can be restricted. However, the restriction shall not exceed the degree necessary for prevention and control. Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “In the time of a public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, color, sex, language, religion or social origin.” The Syracuse Principle on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and political rights, which interprets the human rights derogation of the Convention, stipulates in Article 25 that “Public health may be invoked as a ground for limiting certain rights in order to allow a state to take measures to deal with a serious threat to the health of the population or individual members of the population.” 7 Therefore, for non-COVID-19 patients, especially critically ill patients, their rights to treatment should not be abrogated according to Article 4, because their right to life is under the same threat as that of COVID-19 patients. For non-COVID-19 patients without critical illness, because their right to life is not endangered, appropriate derogation should be exercised and priority should be given to protecting COVID-19 patients. All these are legally sound and well-founded principles. However, in no case should we completely ignore the medical treatment rights of non-COVID-19 patients. We believe that rights applicable for derogation are restricted to the use of high-quality resources and the right to choose medical resources, while people’s basic right to medical treatment should not be derogated. The basic right to medical treatment consists of having access to essential drugs and medical programs. To this end, it is important to establish a government-led platform helping to overcome the disorder of social self-organization and release social vitality to the maximum through the strong intervention of public power.

B. The relationship between the human rights of the elderly and the young

When an overburdened medical system becomes unable to receive all COVID-19 patients, it will cause a humanitarian crisis. This is by no means alarmist. According to reports, Italy called on the elderly to allow treatment priority for young people. Its medical organization SIAARTI (Society Italiana di Anest-esia Analgesia Rianimazione e Terapia Intensiva) issued a guidebook for medical workers, stipulating in Article 3 that “a threshold be established for ICU treatment and priority given to young people in order to save medical resources and achieve the best results. Some hospitals gave up on patients over 65 years old and no longer put them on ventilators. 8 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recommended adults over 70 years old self-isolate for four months. 9 In the United States, COVID-19 was called by some young people the “boomer remover” 10 , a term metaphorically synonymous with “elimination of the elderly.” The root of this mentality can be traced back to the George W. Bush administration which, to calculate the price of reducing premature mortality, changed the practice of valuing each life saved at US$6.1 million, and adopted an age discount: the life of people over 70 was valued at only 67 percent that of a young person. 11 Sacrificing older people’s lives to make their children and grandchildren inheritors is “a deceptive fantasy,” because it “may cause a large number of elderly people to sacrifice their lives for young people.” “People aged 60 and above became more vulnerable in this crisis, not just to the virus but also to age discrimination. 12

To reconcile the human rights conflicts among different subjects, we must first adhere to a basic concept: respect the value of every human equally, and overcome social Darwinism. Discrimination against the elderly seems to have a theoretical basis, since “the best or the most organized, or the healthiest, or the most active, or the most protected, or the smartest — in the long run, people who meet those conditions are bound to have an advantage over others.” 13 The COVID-19 outbreak exacerbated “ageism” and “intergenerational tension,” 14 harming justice, and posing a relentless challenge to the shared human rights of all human beings. For this reason, we must adhere to the rational principle of interest measurement and discard the inhuman thinking of selective treatment. The elderly were abandoned because there was no other way out, and it is impossible to judge what is right and wrong from the level of justice in specific cases. However, this does not mean that we can watch and not see it, nor does it mean that we can remain silent. On the contrary, we must exercise rational examination from a social perspective. In this sense, this phenomenon is undoubtedly a copy or variant of the “Law of the Jungle” and the “Cave Case”. Human rights jurisprudence states that all people are equal, and the values of different individuals cannot be compared. The value of individuals cannot be judged simply by their contributions to society. Otherwise, we will inevitably fall into the dangerous situation of hierarchical theory and racial superiority.

Second, we must introduce an external perspective on distributive justice and create the necessary social conditions for realizing it. Western theorists on justice, whether it be Aristotle or Rawls, only elaborate justice in the real sense of the term. Even though Rawls talked about the justice of the social system, he restricted his elaboration to the distribution of existing resources, without mentioning external resource supply for institutional justice. In fact, the justice of distribution not only involves the institutional arrangement of how existing resources are distributed but also directly relates to whether the supply of resources is sufficient. In the extraordinary period of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be of no avail if people only study the former ignoring the latter. This is the “theoretical evil” that leads to selective treatment. In general, when medical resources are sufficient to meet the needs of society, the scientific allocation of internal medical resources will satisfy distribution justice. However, in extraordinary periods, we must resort to external resources.

Therefore, the following should be emphasized. First, conceptually we must shift from the allocation of internal resources to the use of external reserve resources and their arrangement and mobilization, and build a legal system for the use of medical emergency reserve resources. Second, in terms of content, we must clarify the legal nature, content and relevant rights and obligations of emergency medical supplies, especially the subjects and forms of responsibility. Third, in terms of subjects, we must establish and strengthen a national reserve center for emergency medical materials according to law, and define legal powers and responsibilities, with the focus on the method for performing duties and legal responsibilities. Fourth, in terms of implementation, we must enhance capacity building, and make emergency medical material supplies an essential element of social welfare, by incorporating capacity building in the national budget system and social assistance system, and supplementing it with effective support from private forces. To ensure the acquiring of resources and the se-curing of supply links and mutually support each other, we must modernize material raising system and financing capacity, as well as the allocation system and capacity to effectively prevent medical institutions from directly accepting donations, weak charity organizations and other ineffective material raising or bipolar pattern with disorderly allocation. Fifth, in terms of time, we must go beyond short-term arrangements, normalizing the emergency thinking. As the saying goes, “Armies are maintained for years but are used on a single day.” The emergency resources are required because of occasional and sudden outbreaks. However, the supply of epidemic prevention and control materials is by no means simply a matter of temporary mobilization. An ep- idemic is not just about a disease, but also about material shortages. Therefore, two changes in thinking are also necessary, namely, from emergency thinking to general thinking, and from abnormal thinking to normal thinking, to organically normalize the reserves. In this regard, an important criterion is, to some extent, “whether or not the state has achieved the most appropriate balance between financing the public health care system and regulating the costs of private health plans.” 15

In addition, legally we must shift from experience to rationality. Hubei has cured more than 3,600 COVID-19 patients over the age of 80, 16 an achievement praised by Bruce Aylward, the assistant director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), once said emotionally: “If I am infected, I hope to be treated in China.” 17 China implemented the principle of “ensuring that all patients are examined, admitted to hospitals and treated”, and emphasized effective protection of the lives and physical health of the elderly and other vulnerable groups, 18 undoubtedly demonstrating the spirit of upholding every individual’s right to medical treatment without distinction. Experience should be transformed into logic and incorporated into relevant legal amendments to make it a mandatory code of conduct in future responses to epidemics.

C. The relationship between people from the epicenter and other areas

The quarantine system is essential to fight against the epidemic. Implementing strict isolation has become the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus. Of course, indiscriminate denial of access to citizens from the epidemic epicenter or those without a history of travel to high-risk areas or close contact with people infected with the virus would be discrimination. For example, in a few places, residents of Hubei who were outside the province before it was locked down were turned away by hotels, and Hubei residents were forced to terminate their rental agreements on apartments. After the epidemic ameliorated, Hubei residents trying to resume work in other places were denied entry and even repatriated. 19 In this epidemic, we have effectively strengthened legal governance and equal protection, and the accumulated practical experience should be timely included in the scope of legal regulation. “We are unequivocally opposed to the use of the term ‘China Virus’ and other international racial discrimination, and we cannot allow discrimination against specific groups outside the scope of the law, especially “Hubei residents.” 20 The crux of the problem is how to determine the legal boundary between reasonable distinction and discrimination? How can the existing principled opinions be legally operable? In the following part, the health code will be used as an example.

In order to address the problem of health status verification of the migrating population, the “health code” system being implemented is worthy of promotion and continuous improvement. The problem is that different regions have different attitudes towards it, and there are forms of localism. Recognition of the health codes of residents of the epicenter can be markedly different in different regions. Some places even refuse to recognize it and deny entry to the holder. To address such problems, it is necessary to “unify policies and standards in personnel management and control, and promote mutual recognition of health codes.” 21 To this end, a national sound health certification system should be established according to law. The first issue is the legal status. As a means of epidemic prevention and control, the health code system is at best an administrative management method in terms of attributes without legal effect. In revising legal instruments on responding to public health incidents, we must consider establishing a legal system for health certification, legalizing health certification to ensure the obligatory legal force of the health code. Local regulations or measures inconsistent with national ones shall be deemed invalid. The second issue is the scope of legal validity. Once the health code is generated and legally confirmed, it shall have legal effect. The legal binding force is higher than the effect of policies and customary norms, making its effect undeniable by administrative or customary practices. Moreover, this effect should extend to the whole country rather than a certain region. Therefore, it will be “one code with nationwide applicability.”

The third is the basis of legal validity. The legal effect of health certification is based on its scientific nature. A system of health testing, registration, statistics, and accreditation would be truly helpful in preventing and controlling the spread of the virus and ensuring the health of all residents. Therefore, the health code should be supported by strict medical standards to prevent inconsistency with scientific standards, perfunctory process, statistic loopholes, and flawed testing. A more rigorous and reliable testing system should be established to strengthen the credibility and applicability of health certification. The fourth is the guarantee of legal effectiveness. The establishment and implementation of legal responsibility is the fundamental guarantee for transforming legal effects into legal effectiveness. To this end, establishing a legal supervision mechanism for health certification and freedom of travel is necessary. The subjects of responsibility include health certification subjects as well as health verification subjects, while responsibility features administrative responsibility supplemented by other forms.

II. Content-Based Human Rights Conflicts and Their Resolving

A. General principles
The right to life, freedom, property and education, and social rights are the basic human rights that have received much attention during the novel coronavirus outbreak. Regarding the order of these rights, Western jurists believe that “If asked what is the most important individual right in Western law, most jurists would answer: ‘life.’” Indeed, human life is protected in the most primitive legal system.” 22 The reason is that in the hierarchy of interests, “life is a prerequisite condition for protecting other interests (especially all personal interests), so it should be declared as superior to property interests. Therefore health interests are of a higher in order than pleasure or entertainment interests.” 23 From the perspective of legal norms, international human rights law and the constitutions of many countries put the right to life before the right to freedom. 24 If so much emphasis is placed on the right to life and health, why has the prevention and control in some major Western countries with advanced medical technology and economic strength been seriously compromised, with soaring infections and deaths?

In this regard, some people point to living habits; some other countries, and some the culture. But looking at this from the perspective of human rights jurisprudence, we can see the underlying reason. With the domination of individualistic human rights values, no emphasis on the right to life is enough to eliminate the deep-rooted prioritizing of the right to freedom or liberalism. A narrow individualistic perspective will make it difficult to achieve success in epidemic prevention and control as it undermines quarantine measures, and ultimately the right to life and health are sacrificed. Practice has proved that those countries and regions “putting people’s lives and health in the first place”, exercising stringent lockdowns and quarantines and comprehensively focusing on treatment have low morbidity and mortality 25 with a decisive victory in epidemic prevention and control. Conversely, those raising the banner of so-called personal freedom, freedom of speech, and economic freedom, refusing lockdowns, quarantines, the use of masks or even treatment inevitably have become sacrifices on the altars of anti-science and anti-human rights. Of course, protection of the right to life and health does not necessarily mean total denial of the right to freedom whose restriction or even sacrifice should be limited to a reasonable extent. So, how is this extent defined? The answer directly involves a basic theoretical issue in human rights law, namely, how to coordinate the value conflict between the rights to life and health and the right to freedom. The solution to this issue has become the key to the success of epidemic prevention and control. Here, the principle of value integration between the right to life and health and the right to freedom can be summarized as follows: First, the principle of priority, that is, the right to life is higher than the right to freedom; second, the principle of choice, that is, if and when the contradiction between the right to life and freedom is irreconcilable, the right to life must be chosen over the right to freedom; third, the principle of exception, that is, when the sacrifice of the right to freedom directly threatens the right to life, the right to freedom and the right to life are equally important, and the right to freedom must not be sacrificed.

B. value integration under the supremacy of the right to life and health

Based on the above principles, this thesis focuses on the right to economic freedom, one of the rights to freedom, as an example and compares it with the right to life and health to explore ways of conflict integration. Quarantines and lockdowns are the most effective ways to fight the contagion, even at the cost of a painful economic shutdown. However, in the dangerous period of a pandemic outbreak, major Western countries still emphasized that “business should be restarted to save the economy, even at the price of health.” 26 The tension between the right to life and health and economic rights has been highlighted to the whole society. At this time, we should adhere to the supremacy of the right to life and health, and adopt the following basic methods for value integration based on this.

1. Priority

The right to life and health should always take priority over the right to economic freedom, because the economy itself is not an end and economic rights are not the ultimate goal. Employment and market freedom are just conditions for human beings to protect their right to life and health. Practice has repeatedly shown that all efficient and fast anti-epidemic models derogate economic freedom rights; all models focusing on economic freedom rights invariably fail during a public health crisis; vacillation or attempting to balance the right to life and health with the right to economic freedom leads to high prevalence of infection and a high mortality rate, and significantly prolonged maintenance interval. From this, a basic conclusion can be drawn: in times of public health emergency, the right to economic freedom can and should be appropriately sacrificed to protect the right to life and health.

2. Limit of costs

What amount of economic cost is reasonable? How to grasp the “limit” or “necessity” of sacrifice? Western economists have calculated it with statistical methods. Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi found that $100 million would be lost for every death. According to the life standard set by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the cost of saving a life is approximately $9.5 million. The US Department of Agriculture has a calculation standard used to estimate the economic cost of foodborne diseases, including productivity loss caused by healthcare, premature death, and non-fatal cases. Some scholars have analyzed the economic cost of COVID-19 and found that saving one life is equivalent to losing 2 million US dollars in economic activities. 27 We believe that this economic calculation is undesirable, because “if the medical system is overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, the mortality rate will increase, and consequently change the cost-benefit ratio. Therefore, it is necessary to implement more severe lockdown measures at a faster speed.” 28 Even if the government does not take mandatory measures to suspend the economy, people will take the initiative. More importantly, it is unethical to put a price on life, as pricing life is essentially using numbers to cover up human nature and measurement methods to cover up social justice. In particular, the conversion of human values into a certain amount of currency “to weigh the economic cost of human life seems inevitably stupid.” 29 It is against scientific ethics, and its own scientific nature is questionable. Restricting the right to economic freedom is an unavoidable rational choice. The extent of the restriction can be temporal and spatial, for example, it can be limited to the outbreak period and the epicenter area. When the resources of a specific region are insufficient to contain the epidemic and external cooperation or leadership is required, the economic freedom of this region must be sacrificed. And the sacrifice of economic freedom is a sufficient and necessary condition to guarantee the right to life. Otherwise, beyond a certain time and place, it is necessary but not sufficient. Admittedly, the industrial chain of modern society involves intertwined links, and the economic restrictions in the epicenter area will inevitably affect the economic development of other areas. Therefore, cutting off the economic relationship through physical contacts becomes a necessary choice. Beyond specific periods and areas, this necessity will be greatly reduced or even eliminated. Then, the resumption of work and production will become a top priority.

3. Bottom-line equality

Abrogating the right to economic freedom for the preservation of the right to life and health has a special positive effect, but it also inevitably brings losses. This is an indisputable fact. In order to eliminate the negative impact, the factor of economic equality should be introduced in addition to economic freedom, and the right to eco- nomic equality and the right to life and health should be more consistent. The reason is that when the right to economic freedom cannot be guaranteed, the most affected are the disadvantaged groups, which are the most vulnerable links in the chain of economic relations. The cost is huge. The first is the cost of life and health. Poverty and inequality in economic rights may aggravate the virus spread and death rate, producing a “multiplier effect”, increasing the risk of infection by 40 percent. 30 The second is economic loss. A study published in Proceedings of the royal Society B, a British biological science journal, shows that an entire social class may fall into a “disease-induced poverty trap”, in which “the causality of poverty on health and that of poverty on health imply a positive feedback system.” 31 “As the novel coronavirus spreads globally, it seems to be forming a devastating feedback loop of economic inequality, another most serious problem of our time.” 32 Unemployment, loss of income, loss of medical security, and other evil effects more than often fall on “the disadvantaged in today’s polarized economy and labor market.” In addition, the virus has caused a general decline in economic status in the whole of society, increasing the incidence of chronic diseases, decreasing productivity, increasing medical costs, and more poverty, which brings about more diseases. 33 The third is the cost of social order. The “reinforcing cycle between economic inequality and worsening life and health conditions may increase the number of COVID-19 deaths and further widen the socio-economic gap, which is believed to be the main driver for right-wing populism, racial hatred, and despair that increase deaths caused by alcohol abuse, suicide, or drug overdose.” 34

Therefore, the bottom line should be held for the poor population. Then, it is necessary to distinguish between the economic interests of the elite and the right to work of the poor. If “saving the economy” 35 is conducted at the expense of the health and lives of most people, it is essentially impossible to eliminate economic inequality. Worse still, the interests of the elite are prioritized. Therefore, this part of the right to economic freedom must be strictly restricted. But, can workers in poverty still enjoy the right to work at the peak of the epidemic and refuse to close the city? Independent UN experts emphasized the special protection of the basic right of survival for work-ers who must work to support their families, 36 but satisfying their right to work under such dangerous circumstances will undoubtedly make things worse.

Therefore, it is necessary to shift from the perspective of economic rights, especially the right to work, to the perspective of social rights. Debt reduction, paid vacation, and government subsidies should be established as legally mandatory norms and effectively implemented to curb economic freedom and promote economic equality concurrently. The special social security system based on major public health emergencies should be strengthened, and maximum economic justice should be achieved through social security rather than blindly resuming work and production. Although such a mechanism should be applied only for the duration of the emergency.

4. Restoration of justice

When epidemic control is stabilized, especially when any cordon sanitaires are lifted, the restoration of economic freedom is of fundamental significance. The novel coronavirus outbreak has severely affected the economic development of all regions worldwide, and the “great lockdown” has resulted in the most serious economic recession since the Great Depression, and greater devastation than the global financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund predicted in it World economic outlook released in April 2020 that the economy will shrink by 3 percent in 2020. It forecasts that the growth rate for developed economies will be minus 6.1 percent, for Latin America and the Caribbean minus 5.2 percent, for South Africa minus 5.8 percent and ASEAN minus 0.6 percent. It estimates that China’s economy to grow by 1.2 percent, compared with 6.1 percent in 2019. 37 The slowed growth is bound to pose new challenges to realize economic rights and other economic human rights. Therefore, studying challenges and finding solutions in the protection of human rights, especially economic ones, in the post-epidemic era, is of long-term importance.

C. The holistic approach

Ensuring individual civil political rights or socioeconomic rights alone cannot solve the above problem. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce a “holistic” approach. A comprehensive plan should be implemented to promote human rights via development incorporating international human rights conventions instead of discussing economic rights on a matter-of-fact basis. This involves the basic principles of the relationship between development and human rights. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has integrated elements of the right to development and designed the three development pillars of “economy, society and environment.” Among them, life, health, the prevention and control of diseases, especially infectious ones, and universal social security are undoubtedly included in the right to development as one of the social development goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states in Goal 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” that efforts will be made to “end infectious diseases”, “achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”, and “strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.” 38 It can be seen that when conflicts arise between the right to life and health and the right to economic development, the principle of national responsibilities and global economic cooperation should be upheld to oppose the impacts of unilateralism and protectionism on the global fight against the virus.
Meanwhile, the integration and symbiosis of life and health rights and economic rights should become the norm. It is of great significance to scientifically set the conditions for the state of emergency, divide it into stages, and distinguish different levels of the state of emergency. It is of great significance to implement targeted measures to restrict economic rights given specific conditions, specific stages, and specific levels of danger. In this regard, the cooperation among medical professionals, economists and the government plays a prerequisite role. It is necessary to rally all forces to achieve the organic unification of scientific, democratic, legal, and efficient decision-making with a holistic approach to development rights. In the sense of domestic human rights law, efforts must be made to address the weakness of free regulation by traditional private laws and the insufficiency of compulsory intervention by public laws. Public power should be invoked to act on different social and economic entities to maintain its intense intervention and stimulation on economic activities, prevent private subjects from disregarding human rights, and secure a high degree of market autonomy and freedom of private subjects. In this way market flexibility and resilience will be restored, compulsory economic intervention, market autonomy and social policy will be balanced, and human rights will be fully protected in orderly interaction between citizens and the society. Specifically, efforts can be made in the following aspects. The first is to implement mandatory interventions at the national level to enhance human rights while promoting employment, eradicating poverty, and stimulating economic development. The most urgent task is to stimulate the restoration of economic vitality. The right to work 39 can serve as the starting point and equality and non-discrimination as a guarantee. 40 The second is to implement balanced social policies and vigorously safeguard the bottom-line rights of disadvantaged groups through social security. The third is to implement citizenship level autonomy to cultivate and strengthen the human rights capabilities for social subjects.

III. value-Based Human Rights Conflicts and Their Resolution

From a legal perspective, freedom, equality, human rights, order, and efficiency are all indispensable basic values. In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the protection of human rights is inseparable from norms, fairness and justice, and governance efficiency. Therefore, bridging the gap between the above-mentioned values to form a synergized whole has become the key to success in the fight against the pandemic. The novel corononavirus outbreak will inevitably break the existing social order, lockdowns, quarantines, testing, and treatment are the most effective ways to prevent and control the spread of the virus. To this end, it requires maximum restraint of personal freedom. This is bound to exert a great impact on the order of social life, economic order, medical care and the spread of public opinion, and considerably change the original lifestyle, production methods, medical care models and healthy living habits. For this reason, this thesis is focused on the value relationship model of freedom and order.

From a legal point of view, order means the stability of relations, the effectiveness of rules, the expectable nature of behaviors, and the firmness of structure. 41 It is manifested in certain restrictions, prohibitions, and controls on social life, in the responsiveness and mutual complementation of social relations, as well as inconsistency, non-contradiction, and stability. 42 The expansion of freedom is tantamount to breaking prohibitions, interactions, and stable relationships. The normalized relationship between freedom and order is balanced and harmonious, but it should be repositioned in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The repositioning is summarized as “free and unnecessary principle” in this thesis. Which means that freedom should be maximally restricted and that the right to personal freedom and other forms of freedom should be exercised only when necessary. For the rest, the exercising of the rights is prohibited or restricted. The repositioning means breaking the equilibrium,and abrogating the value of personal freedom. The value of the prevention and control order is made the main body and the proliferation of freedom eliminated to maintain the focus on the order of the epidemic control. Specifically, it is embodied in the following relationships.

A. Life order and freedom

Laws and policies for prevention and control should be strictly enforced. The strictest mandatory isolation and mandatory prevention measures should be implemented, and freedom in social life should derogate under the law. Meanwhile, public security management should be strengthened and the general mode of administrative law enforcement changed to a stringent crackdown on illegal acts of resisting epidemic prevention and control. Efforts must be made to strengthen legal services for epidemic prevention and control, enhance the resolution of conflicts and disputes, and provide effective legal assistance to those in need. 43 To this end, we must focus on constructing an extraordinary and irregular order for emergencies in social life. We should clarify the legal nature of the social relationship to be regulated when transforming the normal state into an abnormal state, so to cure the “early syndrome” of hesitation and vacillation, and make rapid decisions based on scientific judgment. This is extremely difficult to truly achieve by countries around the world. Therefore, subject responsibility should be clarified at two levels: the public should shoulder the legal responsibility for accepting or refusing compulsory control, and the government is legally bound to make quick decisions and enforce them.

B. Market order and freedom

The decisive role of the market in resource allocation is the main thread to comprehensively deepen the economic reform. During the outbreak, market freedom often lacks centripetal force and the self-organization of the market cannot meet the soaring demand for resources. Therefore, firstly, a market guarantee emergency system should be established. Although only occasionally activated during uncertain disasters or outbreaks, it should also be normalized and made a statutory obligation of the government. In particular, the types and methods of statutory responsibilities for failure to or inefficiency in filling this responsibility should be clarified. The reason is that empirical analysis has shown that when a sudden epidemic crisis emerges, a serious shortage of resources often occurs as a prominent problem in the early stage. However, the early stage happens to be the best window for fighting the epidemic and losing this op- portunity means a very painful price in the subsequent prevention and control efforts. Secondly, market supervision and law enforcement should be strengthened to“strictly investigate and punish all kinds of illegal acts that drive up prices of epidemic pre-vention supplies and popular livelihood commodities, and a stringent crackdown on illegal and criminal acts such as manufacturing and selling counterfeit products and undermining epidemic prevention and control according to law. 44 Although the current laws have provided for specific standards and methods of administrative punishment and criminal punishment, the intensity and speed of law enforcement inspection and justice are often restricted by the threat of the epidemic to the law enforcement and judicial system itself. Therefore, it is of great significance to improve the inspection system and establish a response mechanism for administrative law enforcement and a special procedure mechanism for the judicial system. Meanwhile, in terms of improving the normative basis, it is of great significance to provide timely guidance through administrative and judicial interpretations. Such a comprehensive prevention and control mechanism established at the legislative level is more stable and efficient.

C. Medical treatment order and freedom

Patients’ right to freely choose medical resources is an important part of the right to health. However, in extraordinary times, the right to choose is restricted due to the shortage of medical resources. The boundary between medical treatment order and free choice should be set according to local circumstances and specific diseases. For areas with concentrated cases, the right of free choice must temporarily give way to the right to treat the epidemic, because the prevention and control of epidemic is the priority. For general areas, a balance should be sought between the two. It is necessary to further refine the classification and management standards and boundaries in the Infectious Disease prevention and Control Law and the emergency response Law, to prevent disorder and helplessness in emergencies. Meanwhile, it is necessary to crack down on violations and criminal acts to protect emergency medical order in accordance with the law. The National Health Commission, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and the Ministry of Public Security jointly issued a notice on February 7, 2020, clarifying behavior standards and responsibility types in specific applicable laws to severely punish medical-related illegal and criminal acts during the prevention and control period. In total, seven categories of violations were defined 45 , together with their respective judicial procedures 46 , penalties, and conviction and sentencing standards.

The basic principle is to intensify crackdowns, “to maximally guarantee the safety of medical staff and other patients, and maintain medical treatment order.” 47 This thesis believes that it is necessary to draw on the judicial practice in the prevention and control, summarize the current model through case analysis, and incorporate mature and reliable clauses in the relevant legal interpretation into the relevant administrative and criminal law instruments in their revisions as soon as possible, so as to raise legal and judicial effectiveness.

D. Securing order and freedom

Guaranteed medical and living supplies, and transportation and logistics are the basic conditions for the success in epidemic prevention and control. It is necessary to unify deployment and exercise centralized control, while maintaining a certain degree of vitality and freedom, to form a benign interaction between freedom and order. The orderly interaction between public power and social organizations is the magic weap- on to win the people’s war of epidemic prevention and control. In this undertaking, regulating volunteer behavior following the law is a major issue. The relationship among volunteers, social organizations and the government, medical institutions, and patients should be clarified in the laws and regulations, especially the legislation on emergency response. The protection of volunteering behaviors should be highlighted, and free and convenient services should be made the tenet to promote the rule-of-law spirit of protecting human rights with social forces. “It is necessary to regulate donations and acceptance of donated funds and materials in accordance with the law, and ensure their full use for epidemic prevention and control in a timely manner.” 48 No matter how regulation is exercised, we should always adhere to the voluntary nature and freedom of donation to prevent social organizations from restricting the donation effectiveness with reverse pulls.

E. Order and freedom of media

The key difficulty lies in legally defining the relationship between the right to be informed and the social order. “It is necessary to enhance epidemic status reporting and publication according to law, and report the epidemic information timely and accurately in accordance with statutory content, procedure, method, and time limits.” 49 The information release system should be standardized and strengthened for epidemic prevention and control according to law. Open epidemic information and transparent decision-making can stabilize society, calm the popular mind, and prevent social panic. In terms of content, the information release system should also report government decisions, resource requirements, scientific knowledge, public participation methods and other information on a real-time basis in the fight against the epidemic, aside from stipulating the epidemic situation. In terms of government decision-making, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18 th CPC Central Committee clearly stated that “The decision-making mechanism shall be improved according to law. Public participation, expert argumentation, risk assessment, legality review, and collective discussion and decision shall be identified as legal procedures for major administrative decisions to ensure that the decision-making system is scientific, the procedures proper, the process open, and the responsibilities clear.” 50 It can be seen that the disclosure of the number of infected cases, the severity rate of patients, and the mortality rate in the epidemic is the basis for improving social awareness of prevention and control. Disclosure involves not just the results; instead, it should include the disclosure of the decision-making process for epidemic prevention and control, implementation, and social supervision methods. Therefore, it is necessary to build a systematic information mechanism legalized and standardized as “the jointly built information mechanism for universal sharing.” The responsibility of information suppliers should be clarified in law. This applies not just to public medical institutions, but all medical organizations and medical staff to form a complete chain of the information supply system, and overcome the inability to accurately count the number of patients and deaths, and other defects.

F. Freedom of speech and public order

In the rational value sequence of freedoms, freedom of speech is of great significance to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. During the outbreak, as the existing emergency plan being challenged, the benign interaction between public power and private rights is the most needed in epidemic control. Opinions of the private subjects, who are the direct victims of the epidemic, come in continuous trickles. Only when converged as public will in a quick, free, and efficient way can these opinions lay a true and universal democratic foundation for public power to make scientific decisions. When fighting the epidemic, the power of public opinion was demonstrated in nearly all phases from the initial confusion to rapid response, strict lockdown, on- line ordering and distribution of basic daily necessities, blocking the last link of virus infection, and categorized treatment of all patients. Expert groups attracted many organized scientists, scholars, and volunteers to participate in decision-making, showing the fundamental functions of freedom of speech and public will. Meanwhile, the public was encouraged to express their opinions in an orderly and free manner, exercise the rights defined by the Constitution to make suggestions, comments, criticisms and supervision to maximally ensure scientific and efficient decision-making. Of course, speech going beyond boundaries of reason becomes a lie; when the bottom line of the law is lost, speech becomes rumor. Lies and rumors are not only the enemies of scientific prevention and control but also the culprits of public panic and social tearing. They seriously endanger social order and are bound to exacerbate the epidemic. Through the official refutation of rumors by governments at all levels, mainstream media, and scientists, the scientific knowledge, medical knowledge, and legal knowledge for epidemic prevention and control were timely transmitted, exposing the essence and harm of rumors. It is essential for preventing the so-called freedom of expression from violating normalized social order. The distortion of social values caused by the freedom of expression in the United States can be justifiably said to be an important cultural source of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the rumors of Bill Gates’ fight against the epidemic have seriously hampered social consciousness during the epidemic. Since the COVID-19 virus ravaged the United States, conspiracy believes directed against Bill Gates has been rampant in the United States. According to the Washington post, conspiracy theorists accused the Gates team of trying to use the COVID-19 pandemic for personal gain. According to the “Austin American Statesman” report released on April 25, 2020, people in Texas, the United States, held a rally to oppose the “staying order” and even shouted the slogan “Arrest Bill Gates”. 51 In extraordinary conditions, rumors are harmful and lethal in the prevention and control order. To this end, first, rumors should be classified and managed. Epidemic rumors can be divided into three main categories: rumors that violate medical science, rumors that hinder social governance, and rumors that disrupt public order. Scientific medical knowledge should be used to block the spread of pseudoscience and even feudal superstition, the science of isolated treatment, prevention, and control to break habitual thinking and even bad habits of life, and legal education to build a rational prevention and control culture. Second, law-based governance should be consistently combined with governance by virtue, and civilized moral standards integrated into the legal system for epidemic prevention and control to form a correct human rights culture and values. In short, the rumor prevention and control mechanism is as important as its epidemic equivalent. Governance based on both morality and law should be upheld. Governance and prevention should be exercised concurrently. In the end, legal governance, source governance, comprehensive governance, scientific governance will be achieved. Internet, big data, and artificial intelligence should be legally used to combat epidemic rumors for a good prevention and control order.
(Translated by QIAN Chuijun)

* WANG Xigen ( 汪习根 ), Dean of the Law School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and Dean of the Institute for Human Rights, and Distinguished Professor of the Cheng Kong Scholar Program of the Ministry of Education.
** WANG Wenjing ( 王文静 ), Ph.D Candidate of the Law School, Huazhong University of Science and Tech-nology. This article is one of the phased results of the “Research on the Perfection of Socialist Core Values and Educational Legal System”, a key research project of the National Social Science Fund of China (Project No. 19VHJ010)
1. In his commentary on underlying reasons for the United States to have the largest number of COVID-19 infec- tions and deaths, Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman has pointed out: “the United States is on the worst trajecto-ry of any advanced country — yes, worse than Italy at the same stage of the pandemic — with confirmed cases doubling every three days... it’s worth stepping back for a few minutes to ask why America has handled this crisis so badly. Incredibly bad leadership at the top is clearly an important factor. (Continued on Next Page)Thousands of Americans are dying, and the president is boasting about his TV ratings. But this isn’t just about one man. Neither the scientific denial that crippled the initial response to this pandemic, nor the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths that now seem likely, are unique to Covid-19. Among advanced countries, the United States has long stood out as the land of denial and death. It’s just that we’re now seeing these national character flaws play out at a vastly accelerated rate. About denial: Epidemiologists trying to get a handle on the coronavirus threat appear to have been caught off guard by the immediate politicization of their work, the claims that they were perpetrating a hoax designed to hurt Trump, or promote socialism, or something. About death: In fact, we have the lowest life expectancy among advanced countries.” Paul Krugman, “This Land of Denial and Death: Covid-19 and the Dark Side of American Exceptionalism”, new york Times, May 31, 2020.
2. Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates that “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable stan-dard of physical and mental health.”
3. Paragraph 12 of General Comment No. 3 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In ad-dition, its General Comment No. 14 clearly stipulates “non-discrimination and equal treatment” in the right to health.
4. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, An Evaluation of the Obligation to Take Steps to the Maximum of Available Resources Under an Op tional Protocol to the Covenant, E/C. 12/2007/1, 2007, para.4.
5. Zhu Lizi and Ye Chuanxing, Human rights Law (Beijing: Renmin University of China Press, 2017), 237.
6. Xi Jinping, “Speech at the Conference on Coordinating and Promoting COVID-19 Prevention and Control and Economic and Social Development Work Deployment”, people’s Daily, February 24, 2020.
7. United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provi-sions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN. Doc. E/CN. 4/1985/4, Annex (1985), Article 25.
8. Yascha Mounk, “The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors”, The Atlantic, March 11, 2020.
9. Ayalon Lat, “There is Nothing New under the Sun: Ageism and Intergenerational Tension in the Age of the COVID-19 Outbreak”, International psychogeriatrics (2020).
10. Mary Schmich, “COVID-19 as the ‘Boomer Remover’ — Let’s Talk about That”, Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2020.
11. Eduardo Porter and Jim Tankersley, “Shutdown Spotlights Economic Cost of Saving Lives”, The new york Times, March 24, 2020.
12. Ibid.
13. C. Fuchs, “Everyday Life and Everyday Communication in Coronavirus Capitalism”, 18 Triple C 1 (2020): 375-399.
14. Bratt Christopher, Abrams Dominic and Swift Hannah, “Supporting the Old but Neglecting the Young — the two Faces of Ageism”, 56 Developmental psychology 5 (2020).
15. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding observations of the Committee on Eco-nomic, Social and Cultural Rights: Finland, E/C.12/1/Add.52, 2000, para. 31.
16. “Hubei Cures More than 3,600 COVID-19 Patients Over 80 Years Old — Respecting and Saving Life with Heart and Soul”, People’s Daily, April 14, 2020.
17. “WHO Expert: If I Am Infected, I Hope to Be Treated in China!”, Xinhuanet, accessed April 4, 2020. http:// www.xinhuanet.com/politics/202^02/28/c_1125638163.htm.
18. “Notice of the State Council on the Joint Mechanism for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Enhancing Epidemic Prevention and Control of Civil Service Institutions”, GFMD No. 6 [2020], issued by the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China on February 28, 2020, China Government Website, accessed April 4, 2020. http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2020-02/28/content_5484533.htm.
19. “Refrain from Impose Other Conditions except the Health Code”, Legal Daily, April 1, 2020.
20. Zhang Li, “All Kinds of Discrimination in the Epidemic Should Be Eliminated as Soon as Possible”, Procu-ratoria Daily, April 1, 2020.
21. “Xi Jinping Chairs the Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Com- mittee to Analyze the Domestic and Foreign COVID-19 Pandemic Prevention and Control and Economic Operation Situation, Research Deploy and Implement Normalized Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures to Comprehensively Promote the Resumption of Work and Production”, overseas edition of people’s Daily, April 9, 2020.
22. Peter Stein and John Shand, Legal Values in Western Society, trans. Wang Xianping (Beijing: People’s Public Security University Press, 1990), 199.
23. Bodenheimer, Jurisprudence: The philosophy and method of Law, trans. Deng Zhenglai et al (Beijing: China University of Political Science and Law Press, 1999), 400.
24. Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares in Article 3 that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates in Article 6 that “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Declaration of Independence declares that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution stipulates that “governments cannot deprive any person of "life, liberty, or property" without due process of law.”
25. “Xi Jinping Chairs the Third Meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensive Rule of Law, Stressing the Comprehensive Improvement of Law-Based Prevention and Control Capabilities to Provide Strong Legal Protection for Epidemic Prevention and Control”, people’s Daily, February 6, 2020.
26. Mary Schmich, “COVID-19 as the ‘Boomer Remover’ — Let’s Talk about That”, Chicago Tribune, March 24, 2020.
27. Eduardo Porter and Jim Tankersley, “Shutdown Spotlights Economic Cost of Saving Lives”, The new york Times, March 24, 2020.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Research has shown that in the United States, 90 percent of the top 25 percent wage earners may take paid sick leave, as compared to only 47 percent of the bottom 25 percent. The paid vacation policy can reduce the infection rate by 40 percent, while most states in the United States do not have such a policy, and the number of infections may increase by 40 percent. Max Fisher, Emma Bubola, “Covid-19 and Economic Inequality: A Vicious Circle”, The new york Times, March 17, 2020.
31. Matthew H. Bonds, Donald C. Keenan, Pejman Rohani and Jeffrey D. Sachs, “Poverty Trap Formed by the Ecol ogy of Infectious Diseases”, Proc. R. Soc. B (2010): 277 and 1185-1192.
32. Max Fisher and Emma Bubola, “Covid-19 and Economic Inequality: A Vicious Circle”, The new york Times, March 17, 2020.
33. Ibid.
34. Ibid.
35. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, “COVID-19: Urgent Appeal for a Human Rights Response to the Economic Reces- sion”, Geneva, April 15, 2020.
36. Ibid., 7.
37. IMF, World Economic Outlook: The Great Lockdown, April 2020.
38. UN, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A/RES/70/1, October 21, 2015.
39. Chen Fang, “Don’t Get Hubei People Stuck in Resuming Work”, Guangming Daily, March 24, 2020.
40. The Supreme People’s Court emphasized on April 23, 2020 that efforts should be made to strictly prohibit discrimination against Hubei workers, resolutely correct refusal to recruit and dismiss Hubei workers without reason and other the employment discrimination of individual units, and earnestly safeguard the equal employment rights of workers, so that the people feel the fairness and warmth of socialist justice.” Supreme People’s Court: “Discrimination against Hubei laborers is strictly forbidden and unreasonable dismissals shall be corrected”, people’s Daily, April 24, 2020.
41. Zhang Wenxian, Jurisprudence (Beijing: Higher Education Press, Peking University Press, 1999), 227.
42. P. S. Cohen, The modem Social Theory (London: Heinemann, 1968), 18-19.
43. Xi Jinping, “Comprehensively Enhancing the Prevention, Control and Governance Ability according to Law and Improving the National Public Health Emergency Management System” (Speech at the 3 rd meeting of the CPC Central Committee on Comprehensive Rule of Law on February 5, 2020), Qiushi 5 (2020).
44. Xi Jinping, “Comprehensively Enhancing the Prevention, Control and Governance Ability according to Law and Improving the National Public Health Emergency Management System”, Qiushi 5 (2020).
45. The seven acts are “(1) Assault, intentionally injure, or intentionally kill medical staff; (2) Use violence or threats to illegally restrict the personal freedom of medical staff, or openly insult, intimidate, or slander medical staff; ( 3) Such acts as tearing protective gear, spitting and other behaviors that may cause medical staff to be infected with COVID-19; (4) Refusing quarantine, isolation, and treatment measures of medical and health institutions through violence or threats, or obstructing them in disposal of the corpses of patients with infectious diseases in accordance with the law; (5) Forcibly taking or deliberately destroying or occupying the property of medical and health institutions, or causing disturbances, corpses laying against regulations, or setting up private mourning halls in medical and health institutions, that cause disorder and affect the normal process of epidemic prevention and control work; (6) Illegally carrying guns, ammunition, controlled equipment, or explosive, radioactive, toxic, or corrosive substances into medical and health institutions; (7) Other circumstances violating the safety of medical personnel and disrupting medical order.” National Health Com- mission, Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, “Notice on Ensuring the Safety of Medical Staff and Maintaining Good Medical Order during the COVID-19 Prevention and Control”, February 7, 2020.
46. For example, for illegal and criminal acts that undermine the order of epidemic prevention and control and endanger the lives and safety of medical personnel, the health administration department shall assist medical institutions to “promptly report to the police”; the public security organs “shall promptly dispatch police force and handle them”, “initiate and investigate cases in a timely manner in accordance with law”; the procuratorate authority “shall review the case, approve arrests and initiate public prosecutions as soon as possible,” and “the people’s court shall speed up the progress of a hearing.” Ibid.
47. “Defendant that commit a crime with despicable motives, grave circumstances, cruel means, deep subjective malignancy, or high personal danger, or commit a crime that seriously endangers public safety and has bad social impacts shall be punished with severity, and resolutely sentenced to heavy penalty or death penalty according to the law where the conditions are met.” Ibid.
48. Xi Jinping, “Comprehensively Enhancing the Prevention, Control and Governance Ability according to Law and Improving the National Public Health Emergency Management System”, Qiushi 5 (2020).
49. Ibid.
50. The Fourth Plenary Session of the 18 th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, “Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on Several Major Issues of Comprehensively Promoting the Rule of Law”, peo-ple’s Daily, October 29, 2014.
51. Ariana Garcia, “Coronavirus in Austin: Protesters at Capitol demand Texas Businesses to Reopen”, Austin American-Statesman, accessed April 25, 2020. https: //www.statesman.com/news/20200425/coronavirus-in-austin-pro testers-at-capitol-demand-texas-businesses-to-reopen.

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