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Taiwan is accusing the World Health Organization of pandering to China while ignoring the threat of person-to-person spread of the coronavirus months ago.
A December email, sent from Taiwan to the global health agency which denied receiving it, was made public by the island nation off the coast of southeastern China. WHO was alerted in the email to at least seven cases of atypical pneumonia that had popped up in Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 originated.
— MOHW of Taiwan (@MOHW_Taiwan) April 11, 2020
Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention wrote to WHO on Dec. 31, noting the existence of the cases and relating that the media had asked health officials in China about them.
“The cases were believed not SARS; however samples are still under examination, and cases have been isolated for treatment,” the authorities had reportedly responded, according to the email.
“I would greatly appreciate it if you have relevant information to share with us,” the email added.
Taiwan is not part of the World Health Organization as China has convinced the agency to exclude the independent nation that has not been recognized by the Chinese government since declaring its independence more than seven decades ago.
The government took proactive measures and began to screen all passengers from Wuhan as soon as it learned about the cases there and even without any response from the WHO on how to combat the virus. The nation of nearly 24 million people only has 393 confirmed COVID-19 cases with six deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In a press release, Taiwan’s CDC noted that there was an underlying purpose in highlighting the “atypical pneumonia” in the email to the WHO, which claimed the warning about the potential for person-to-person passing of the disease was never received. In using the language, Taiwan’s CDC hoped “public health professionals could discern from this wording that there was a real possibility of human-to-human transmission of the disease.”
“However, because at the time there were as yet no cases of the disease in Taiwan, we could not state directly and conclusively that there had been human-to-human transmission,” the press release read.
According to Fox News:
Taiwan said that WHO and the Chinese CDC both refused to provide adequate information that could have potentially prepared the government for the impact of the virus sooner.
WHO ignored warnings from Taiwan and continued to reiterate China’s false talking points — that “there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission” of the novel pathogen even as late as Jan 14.
In addition, WHO failed to mandate that Chinese officials share the viral strains that would have allowed diagnostic tests to have been produced significantly earlier worldwide.
President Trump has said his administration will be “looking into” WHO’s operations and, during Monday’s coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, he said he would decide by next week about pulling U.S. funding for the agency as he threatened to do.
Even though it has been shut out of WHO, Taiwan has managed to contain the spread of the virus and is actively working to help other affected nations deal with the pandemic.
1️⃣: Donating 10 million face masks to countries in need.
2️⃣: Increasing production of quinine.
3️⃣: Sharing our use of technology to trace & investigate outbreaks. pic.twitter.com/F5yxyuF0Fc
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) April 1, 2020
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