The World Health Organization has updated its account of the early stages of the COVID crisis to say that it was alerted by its own office in China, and not by China itself, to the first cases of pneumonia in Wuhan.
The UN health body has been accused by US President Donald Trump of not providing the information needed to counter the pandemic and to be complacent to Beijing, it denies.
On April 9, the WHO published an introductory timeline for its communications, partly in response to criticism of its early response to the outbreak, which has now claimed more than 521
In that chronology, the WHO had said that Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in Hubei Province on December 31 had reported cases of pneumonia. However, the UN Health Agency did not specify who had notified it.
WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference on April 20 that the first report had come from China, without specifying whether the report had been sent by Chinese authorities or some other source.
But a new chronology, published this week by the Geneva-based institution, offers a more detailed version of the events.
It indicates that it was the WHO office in China that on December 31 announced its regional point of contact for a case of “viral pneumonia” after finding a media statement on a website of the Wuhan Health Commission on the matter.
On the same day, the WHO epidemic information service retrieved a new news report sent by the international epidemiological surveillance network ProMed – based in the United States – on the same group of cases of pneumonia from unknown causes in Wuhan.
Subsequently, the WHO asked the Chinese authorities on two occasions, January 1 and January 2, for information on these cases, which they submitted on January 3.
WHO Emergency Director Michael Ryan told a press conference on Friday 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 incident.
Ryan added that the Chinese authorities immediately contacted the WHO as soon as the agency asked to verify the report.
US President Donald Trump has announced that his country, the main financial contributor to the WHO, will cut its bridges with the institution, which he accuses of being too close to China and his poor handling of the pandemic.
WHO denies all self-awareness towards China.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by the NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)