The World Health Organisation has denied a media report that claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping personally asked WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom to ‘delay a global warning’ regarding the coronavirus outbreak during a phone call in January.
The German news outlet, Der Spiegel, published a report citing intelligence from the country’s Federal Intelligence Service, known as the ‘Bundesnachrichtendienst’ (BND), that China “urged” the WHO to “delay a global warning” about the coronavirus outbreak. As per the report, the intelligence found that Xi and Tedros spoke by phone on January 21 during which the Chinese President “urged” the WHO chief to “hold back information about a human-to-human transmission and to delay a pandemic warning.” “The BND estimates that China’s information policy lost four to six weeks to fight the virus worldwide,” the report further added.
The WHO, on its part, called the claims “unfounded and untrue.” In a series of tweets, the WHO clarified that there was never a phone call between chief Tedros and Xi Jinping.
“Der Spiegel reports of a January 21, 2020, telephone conversation between Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and President Xi Jinping of China are unfounded and untrue,” the WHO said. “Dr. Tedros and President Xi did not speak on Jan. 21 and they have never spoken by phone. Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Statement on False Allegations in @derspiegel: Reports of a 21 Jan phone call between @DrTedros & 🇨🇳 President Xi are unfounded & untrue. They didn’t speak on 21 Jan & have never spoken by 📞
Such inaccurate reports distract & detract from WHO’s & the 🌍’s efforts to end #COVID19
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 9, 2020
The WHO noted on Saturday that “China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 20.” The WHO publicly declared on Jan. 22 that “data collected … suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.” The organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic in March.
US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly accused the WHO of becoming a tool of ‘Chinese propaganda’, has also moved to halt US aid to the organisation. He has also launched an investigation into the WHO’s role in the spread of coronavirus. In the past, Trump has accused the WHO of being “China-centric” and also called it a “pipe organ” for Beijing.