The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) issued an “updated timeline” of the coronavirus pandemic last week that admitted China did not issue an early warning about the rapidly spreading disease, contradicting previous statements by Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Saturday noted the key change in the new timeline involves W.H.O. admitting that its own personnel in China warned that an infectious disease was spreading rapidly in Wuhan at the beginning of the year. Tedros previously implied that the warning came from Chinese health officials.
The new timeline still provides some cover for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by praising Chinese authorities for responding within two days when W.H.O. received a report from its own office about the burgeoning epidemic, noted corroborating accounts from a U.S.-based surveillance network called ProMed, and made two requests to Chinese officials for clarification.
“The W.H.O. published an initial timeline of its communications on April 9, partly in response to criticism of its early response to the outbreak that has now claimed more than 521,000 lives worldwide. In that chronology, the agency said only that cases of pneumonia were reported on December 31 by the Wuhan municipal health commission, without specifying where the notification had come from,” the SCMP reported.
Fox News skeptically noted the revised timeline was very quietly posted on W.H.O.’s website, treating it as merely an expanded timeline with “more details” instead of a major revision and wondered why it took so long for the organization to clarify a major point of contention.
“A spokesperson for the W.H.O. did not immediately respond to a request for comment to clarify the timeline change and why it was enhanced more than six months after the initial findings,” the report said.
Fox further pointed out this is only the latest in a series of revised and retracted statements from W.H.O. during the coronavirus pandemic:
The first confirmed case from inside Wuhan was said to have been logged on Dec. 8, a woman who claimed to have not been connected to the market. It raises questions about what went on during the weeks in between, the WHO’s own investigative abilities and why an initial tweet sent by the WHO on Jan. 14 said there was “no evidence of human to human transmission.”
Furthermore, on Feb. 3, several weeks after scores of countries – including the United States – had confirmed cases of the new illness, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus proclaimed that “the spread to other countries is minimal and slow,” and the virus could be “contained easily” as a result of China’s “strategy and efforts.” His comments came a week after the health chief met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Recent reports have also pointed to the notion that China halted the release of vital information to the public for several days and waited more than a week to release the genome publicly so that diagnostic tests could be developed by other countries.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, greeted the revised W.H.O. timeline as vindication of the report his China Task Force released in mid-June.
“I’m glad to see the W.H.O. and the Chinese Communist Party have both read my interim report on the origins of the pandemic and are finally admitting to the world the truth — the CCP never reported the virus outbreak to the WHO in violation of WHO regulations,” McCaul told National Review on Thursday.
“The question now is whether the CCP will continue their false propaganda campaign that continues to claim they warned the world, or whether they will come clean and begin to work with the world health community to get to the bottom of this deadly pandemic,” he said.
It did not take long for Rep. McCaul’s question to be answered. China’s state-run Global Times strove to contain the political fallout on Sunday, claiming without evidence that the altered W.H.O. timeline “does not change the fact that China reported a potential outbreak to the organization at the earliest possible time.”
According to the Global Times, China’s bad press for the coronavirus is all sour grapes from “certain countries in the world” that want to “scapegoat” Beijing to cover for their own “failure in coping with the pandemic.”
The Chinese Communist response rambled on at great length about how minor the W.H.O. timeline change supposedly is, while studiously avoiding the key point that China clearly did not fulfill its obligations to warn the world about the coronavirus outbreak — it got caught and grudgingly responded to repeated requests from W.H.O. for more information.
The Global Times concluded by dredging up China’s conspiracy theories about the coronavirus somehow originating elsewhere and migrating to Wuhan by mysterious means: “More evidences have shown [sic] that the virus may have existed in other countries before the first case was reported by China. Spain detected the presence of the novel coronavirus in its city sewage in March last year, and Italy made similar findings, media reports said.”