- China delayed the release of information about the coronavirus, according to a new investigation.
- Its health officials did not share the coronavirus genome until more than a week after researchers in Chinese labs decoded it in early January.
- Beijing did not warn the World Health Organization that the virus passed between people until two weeks later.
- At that time, the WHO publicly praised China for its swift response.
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China contained key information about the corona virus weeks after it first emerged in January, which delayed the international response to the outbreak, a new investigation has revealed.
Chinese officials failed to share the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for over a week after first decoding it, and failed to reveal that the virus could be transmitted between humans for another two weeks, according to internal World Health Organization documents and testimonials obtained by the Associated Press .
AP reported on Tuesday that while researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology decoded the virus on January 2, Chinese health officials did not disclose details of their results until more than a week later, on January 1
It was not until January 20 that the Chinese state warned the World Health Organization and other governments that the virus could pass between people, according to the Associated Press investigation.
This is only after a laboratory in Shanghai, led by researcher Zhang Yongzhen, published the information a day earlier.
At that time, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it described as its swift response to the virus.
However, WHO officials were privately concerned that China was putting on key information about the virus.
“We are currently at the stage where yes, they give us it 15 minutes before it shows on [Chinese state television channel] CCTV, “WHO official, Dr. Gauden Galea, said in a meeting.
The WHO was reportedly frustrated by China’s failure to release the data quickly and was afraid of being blamed for a delayed global response to the outbreak of the deadly virus, the AP report said.
Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency manager, is quoted as saying: “The danger now is that despite our good intentions … there will be a lot of clues to the WHO if something happens.”
President Trump has blamed the WHO and accused it of being controlled by China. He said last week that the United States “ended its relationship” with the WHO and directed the millions of dollars it gives to the global health body elsewhere.
The AP report says that the National Health Commission, Beijing’s oldest health authority, blocked laboratories from releasing information on the COVID-19 virus without its approval, which means the information was published for most of January.
Britain under pressure to cut ties with Beijing
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to chair a meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday, with Britain’s relationship with China reportedly at the top of the agenda.
Johnson is under pressure from more and more MPs in his Conservative party to loosen ties with China for its handling of the coronavirus, as well as for its recent effort to introduce new laws in Hong Kong.
Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab will comment on Hong Kong in the Lower House on Tuesday afternoon after holding a video conferencewith US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and counterparts from Canada, Australia and New Zealand on Monday night.
Prime Minister Johnson is also expected to shrink Huawei’s role in developing the UK’s 5G network after striking a controversial deal with the Chinese telecom company earlier this year.