Who alerted WHO about COVID-19? Not China
Geneva, July 04: The World Health Organisation in its updated account of the early stages of the Coronavirus said that it was alerted by its own office in China and not by China itself about the first pneumonia case in Wuhan.
It may be recalled that US President Donald Trump had accused WHO of failing to provide information needed to stem the pandemic. He also accused WHO of being complacent towards China.
WHO had on April 9 published an initial timeline of its communications. This was done in response to criticism of its early response to the outbreak, that has now claimed more than 5 lakh lives world-wide.
WHO had said then that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in the province of Hubei had on December 31 reported caes of pneumonia. However there was no mention of who had intimated it about it.
However the new chronology published this week indicates that it was the WHO office in China which had on December 31 notified its regional point of contact of a case of viral pneumonia. This was done after a declaration for the media was found on the Wuhan health commission website regarding the issue.
Following this WHO asked the Chinese authorities on January 1 and 2 for information, following which the information was provided on January 3. On Friday, Michael Ryan, WHO emergencies director told a press conference that countries have 24-48 hours to officially verify an event and provide the agency with additional information about the nature or cause of an event.
The Chinese agencies immediately contacted WHO as soon as the agency asked to verify the report, Ryan also said.