Geneva: The World Health Organization has updated its description of the early stages of the COVID crisis, saying that its own office in China is alert to the first case of pneumonia in Wuhan.
US President Donald Trump accused the UN health agency of failing to provide the necessary information to stop the pandemic and expressed complacency with Beijing.
On April 9, WHO released an initial timetable for its spread, partly in response to criticism of its early response. The disease has now claimed more than 521,000 lives worldwide.
In this chronological order, WHO only said that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission of Hubei Province reported pneumonia cases on December 31. However, the United Nations health agency did not specify who notified.
WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference on April 20 that the first report came from China, but did not specify whether the report was sent by Chinese authorities or other sources.
However, this Geneva-based agency released a new chronology this week, which provides a more detailed version of the event.
This shows that it was the WHO office in China who found a media statement on the issue on the website of the Wuhan Health Committee and notified its regional contact point of its “viral pneumonia” case on December 31.
On the same day, WHO’s epidemiological information service agency transmitted another news report from the international epidemiological surveillance network ProMed (located in the United States), reporting the same pneumonia case of unknown cause in Wuhan.
After that, WHO asked the Chinese authorities about the cases twice on January 1 and January 2, and they provided the information on January 3.
Michael Ryan, WHO’s director of emergency affairs, said at a press conference on Friday that countries have 24 to 48 hours to formally verify the incident and provide the agency with more information about the nature or cause of the incident .
Ryan added that once the agency requested verification of the report, the Chinese authorities immediately contacted WHO.
US President Donald Trump announced that the United States is a major financial donor to WHO and will build a bridge with the agency. He accused the agency of being too close to China and poorly managing the pandemic.
WHO denies complacency with China.