Reports claiming China withheld virus info from WHO inconsistent with facts: Chinese FM



China, June 3:

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday refuted Western media reports claiming that China delayed releasing coronavirus data and held it from the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the reports were “seriously inconsistent” with the facts.

“I don’t know where these ‘internal documents’ come from, but I can assure you that certain reports were seriously inconsistent with facts,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a media briefing.

Zhao’s remarks came in response to an Associated Press (AP) report that said China delayed the release of crucial information about the novel coronavirus in January. It cited recordings of internal UN meetings and internal documents claiming the WHO publicly praised China in a bid to pull more information out of the Chinese government.

Zhao listed a timeline introduced by Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at a press conference in May.

On January 3, China reported the epidemic to the WHO and related countries at a time when it had not yet figured out what pathogen caused the epidemic and called it pneumonia of unknown causes.

On January 7, the Chinese CDC successfully isolated the novel coronavirus, and then reported it to the WHO and other countries on January 9 after an expert review.

On January 12, China shared the genetic sequence of the virus with the WHO and the world.

“China’s coronavirus response is open to the world, with clear data and facts that can stand the test of time and history,” Zhao said.

Based on the principles of openness, transparency and responsibility, China has maintained a close communication and cooperation with the WHO and its representative office in China since the outbreak, and will continue to support the WHO in playing an important role in international efforts to combat COVID-19 and jointly contribute to global public health security with the international community, Zhao said.

In response to questions concerning the AP report, the WHO told the Global Times in an email on Wednesday that it had no comment.

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