Despite the World Health Organization (WHO) having publicly praised China for its response to COVID-19, it seems that things were quite different behind the scenes, reported AP. It turns out that WHO officials were actually very frustrated with the way China managed the outbreak.
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AP claims that the WHO reported that China delayed releasing the genetic map of the virus for more than a week after three government labs had fully decoded the data. China also stalled for at least two weeks on providing the organization with information on patients and cases.
So why did the WHO praise China publicly? AP reported it was to coax more information out of the country's officials. But in private meetings, the organization's officials complained about China.
“We’re going on very minimal information,” said American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, who is now WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, in one meeting according to AP. “It’s clearly not enough for you to do proper planning.”
“We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV,” said WHO’s top official in China, Dr. Gauden Galea in another meeting according to AP. CCTV is the state-owned China Central Television.
This news comes at a very trying time for the WHO. The UN agency has agreed to undergo an independent probe as to how the coronavirus pandemic was handled publicly.
It is also in danger of losing its biggest donor: the U.S. President Donald Trump has become very critical of the WHO in recent weeks even going so far as making allegations that the organization allegedly colluded with China to hide the extent of the coronavirus crisis.
On Friday, Trump cut all ties with the WHO, putting at risk the approximately $450 million the U.S. gives the agency every year. It seems tough times are ahead for the health agency.
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