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World Health Organization admits China never reported coronavirus outbreak

The WHO changes its tune after a damning report about China's COVID-19 response from House Republicans

Naohiko Hatta - Pool/Getty Images

The World Health Organization backtracked on their claim that China alerted the international public health agency about the initial coronavirus outbreak. The WHO now admits that China never notified them about the onset of the deadly disease.

The World Health Organization updated its "Timeline of WHO's response to COVID-19" on Tuesday. The initial timeline on WHO's website stated that on Dec. 31 the "Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province."

The timeline has been changed and now reads: "WHO's Country Office in the People's Republic of China picked up a media statement by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission from their website on cases of 'viral pneumonia' in Wuhan, People's Republic of China" on Dec. 31.

Taiwan claims it emailed WHO on Dec. 31 to request information on the outbreak in Wuhan, and asked if the virus could be transmitted between people. Taiwan, which is not a WHO member, alleged that the WHO never replied to their email, which robbed it of valuable time to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.

In April, the WHO responded to Taiwan's allegations by saying, "We have asked how they communicated this to us, because we are only aware of that one email that makes no mention of human-to-human transmission, but they haven't replied."

"The first report came from Wuhan, from China itself, so Taiwan was only asking for clarification, and as some people were claiming, Taiwan didn't report any human-to-human transmission; this has to be clear," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in April. "So, the report first came from China — that's fact number one — from Wuhan itself."

On Jan. 12, the WHO tweeted: "Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China."

The update on the WHO website comes weeks after House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans released the "Interim Report on Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic, Including the Roles of the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization."

"After months of investigating, it's become crystal clear the Chinese Communist Party's cover-up of the coronavirus, especially in the early days of the outbreak, played a significant role in turning what could have been a local epidemic into a global pandemic," Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of Congress's China Task Force, said last month.

"And, unfortunately, the World Health Organization under the leadership of Director-General Tedros only exacerbated the problem by repeatedly ignoring warnings about the severity of the virus, including from their own health experts, while at the same time parroting the CCP's propaganda without independently confirming their claims," McCaul said. "This was a failure of monumental proportions and it is imperative that we uncover the truth so we can set up future safeguards to prevent this from happening yet again."

This week, McCaul reacted to the WHO admitting that China never reported the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I'm glad to see the WHO 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 said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. "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."

At the end of May, President Donald Trump announced that the United States was formally severing its relationship with the World Health Organization. President Trump said the WHO is heavily influenced by China.

"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said. "The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China?"

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