China's President Xi Jinping reportedly pressured the director of the World Health Organization in January to hold off issuing a global warning about the coronavirus outbreak.
German media outlet Der Spiegel, citing intelligence from the country’s intelligence service, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), reported the pressure came in a Jan. 21 call to WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The BND estimated China’s action to conceal information resulted in a loss of four to six weeks in the fight against COVID-19.
The WHO denied the claim as “unfounded and untrue.”
“Dr. Tedros and President Xi did not speak on January 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,” the organization tweeted.
The WHO also tweeted China confirmed human-to-human transmission to the UN health agency on Jan. 20 and the WHO “publicly declared” two days later that “data collected … suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.”
President Donald Trump has condemned China for holding back critical information about the virus to the world, including failing to accurately report on the number of cases — and called WHO a “pipe organ” for China’s communist party last month.
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