By Tony Winterburn • 03 June 2020 • 13:32
Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting in Beijing on Jan. 28, 2020
The World Health Organisation (WHO) lavished China with praise early in the coronavirus outbreak in an attempt to flatter it into handing over data, an investigation has found.
China informed the WHO about the virus on December 31, 2019, and in early January 2020, as the virus spread in Hubei province, the WHO asked China to hand over the genetic map of the virus and detailed patient data.
But it took until January 12 for China to hand over the genetic sequence, and two more weeks to hand over patient data, China has been widely accused of covering up the virus in its early days.
The WHO’s top official in China, Gauden Galea, said in one of the recordings secretly obtained by a press organisation: “We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV [Chinese state TV].”
The report comes amid growing international scrutiny of China’s handling of the outbreak and moves to establish an independent investigation into the origins of the virus, which has infected more than six million and killed more than 375,000 people around the world.
The World Health Organisation is holding a briefing Monday on the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 6.1 million people worldwide and killed at least 372,479, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
This is the WHO’s first press briefing since President Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States will cut its ties with and end funding for the World Health Organisation. On May 20, WHO officials said they worried the agency’s emergency programmes would suffer if the president permanently pulled US funding from the international agency.
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