A new report claims that in January, China asked the World Health Organization to cover up emerging details about the spread of the coronavirus.
The allegation was contained in the German publication Der Spiegel, according to The Daily Caller.
The Daily Caller said the German-language report said Chinese President Xi Jinping personally contacted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to cover up details about the outbreak in Wuhan, and cited information that Der Spiegel said was supplied by the German intelligence agency BND.
Xi asked the controversial Tedros not to announce that human-to-human spread of the virus was taking place, the report said, according to The Daily Caller.
Xi also asked Tedros to stall declaration of a pandemic, the Taiwan News reported.
The report said the German intelligence agency said that the delay in announcing the full extent of the spread of the virus led the world to waste four to six weeks it could have used to prepare for the onslaught.
The WHO issued a statement on Saturday denying the report.
“Der Spiegel reports of a 21 January, 2020, telephone conversation between WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and President Xi [Jinping] of China are unfounded and untrue,” the statement said.
“Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on 21 January and they have never spoken by telephone,” the statement said. “Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement said that “China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus on 20 January.”
On Jan. 20, ABC reported the WHO as saying there was “limited human-to-human transmission” of the virus.
“This is in line with experience with other respiratory illnesses and in particular with other coronavirus outbreaks,” the WHO said then, according to ABC, noting that at the time the extent of human-to-human transmission was uncertain.
The WHO did not declare the coronavirus a global emergency until Jan. 30, according to The New York Times.
President Donald Trump froze U.S. funding for the WHO on the grounds it failed in its mission to protect the world.
“The World Health Organization has been a disaster,” Trump told Fox News last week.
“Everything they’ve said was wrong. And they’re China-centric. They agree with China, whatever China wants to do. So our country, perhaps foolishly in retrospect, has been paying $450 million a year to the World Health Organization. And China’s been paying $38 million a year,” he said, later adding that the WHO “missed every single call.”
A Department of Homeland Security report has said that China’s leadership “intentionally concealed the severity” of the disease in early January, according to The Associated Press.
The DHS report said China withheld information from the WHO while it was stocking up on medical supplies.
CORRECTION, May 11, 2020: Due to incorrect information provided by Getty Images, a photo that appeared with an earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Chinese Foreign Minister Wi Yang as Chinese President Xi Jinping. The president’s name was also misspelled. We apologize to our readers for the errors, and for any confusion we may have caused.
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