Tuesday, 19 Oct 2021

U.S. renews criticism of China's early handling of coronavirus outbreak

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the United States strongly believes that China’s ruling communist party failed to report the outbreak of the new coronavirus in a timely manner to the World Health Organization.

Speaking at a State Department news conference, Pompeo also accused Beijing of failing to report human-to-human transmission of the virus “for a month until it was in every province inside of China.”

The Trump administration has criticized China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began late last year in the city of Wuhan and has grown into a global pandemic that has killed nearly 180,000 people, including more than 45,000 in the United States, according to a Reuters tally.

Citing WHO rules implemented in 2007, Pompeo said, “We strongly believe that the Chinese Community Party did not report the outbreak of the new coronavirus in a timely fashion to the World Health Organization.”

He said that even after Beijing notified the WHO of the outbreak “it did not share all of the information it had. Instead it covered up how dangerous the disease is.”

China has rejected charges that it mishandled the outbreak, saying it has been transparent and open about the spread of the virus.

In fresh criticism of the WHO, Pompeo said the organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom, had failed to use his ability “to go public” when a member state failed to follow the new rules.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week suspended U.S. funding for the WHO, charging that the organization promoted China’s “disinformation” about the outbreak of the virus.

WHO officials have denied that the body was “China-centric” and said now was not the time to cut funding.

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