WHO claims its regional office alerted about virus in Wuhan, not China

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference.
Six months after the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in China's Wuhan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its account of the early reporting of the infection. The organisation said that it was alerted about the Covid-19 crisis by its own office in China and not by Beijing. 

"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. The Country Office notified the International Health Regulations (IHR) focal point in the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office about the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission media statement of the cases and provided a translation of it," the organisation said in a statement. 

The organisation further added that it's Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) platform also picked up a media report on a programme of the International Society for Infectious Diseases about the same cluster of cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause, in Wuhan.

Following the developments, WHO said that it asked for information on the reported cluster of atypical pneumonia cases in Wuhan from the Chinese authorities on January 1 and wrote to the National Health Commission, offering WHO support and repeating the request for further information on the cluster of cases on January 2.

Health workers in protective gear walk in a lane to administer a free medical checkup in a slum Appa Pada area at Malad, in Mumbai on Sunday.

The organisation adds that Chinese officials provided information to WHO on the cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia of unknown cause’ identified in Wuhan on January 3.  The next day WHO tweeted that there was a cluster of pneumonia cases – with no deaths – in Wuhan, Hubei province, People’s Republic of China, and that investigation to identify the cause was underway.  

The new details were released in a new timeline of events published by the WHO on Saturday. 

The new revelation differs from the one released in April where the organisation had maintained that the first report of the virus came from China. 

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