The World Health Organization (WHO) tried to cam fears of a pandemic on Jan. 14 by repeating China’s claim that coronavirus was not contagious among humans.
“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 WHO tweeted.
Just 60 days later, the global death toll from coronavirus had topped 8000 and continued to climb. Over 200,000 cases had been documented in 145 countries. (RELATED: MSNBC Analyst Suggests Using Coronavirus To Prosecute Trump For ‘Negligent Homicide’ — Gets An Assist From Former Democratic Candidate)
But the virus’ means of transmission was far from the only misinformation coming from Chinese officials.
Beijing reported that the first known cases of the novel coronavirus were recorded in mid-December — but later reporting from outside sources suggested that the earliest cases were tracked in November and kept under wraps.
In addition, Caixin Global reported that Chinese officials had identified the virus as early as mid-December — but were instructed to destroy both their test results and their samples.
The UK Times reported:
A regional health official in Wuhan, centre of the outbreak, demanded the destruction of the lab samples that established the cause of unexplained viral pneumonia on January 1. China did not acknowledge there was human-to-human transmission until more than three weeks later.
The WHO announced that China had provided the necessary data on the virus in mid-January, a full month after initial data and information had been reportedly destroyed and a week after officials had reported that it still had not been identified.
Despite the lack of cooperation from China as other nations began to grapple with the spread of coronavirus, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s response with regard to testing protocols and quarantines.
The South China Morning Post noted that one British member of the WHO had referred to the shuttering of Wuhan under a mass quarantine — affecting some 11 million people — as “heroic.”
Fending off criticism that he made the appreciative remarks just to save China “face,” Tedros insisted that China “doesn’t need to be asked to be praised” for its efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“China has done many good things to slow down the virus,” Tedros said. “The whole world can judge. There is no spinning here.”
In addition to its apparent failure to press the Chinese government on the lack of cooperation and refusal to provide all available data, the WHO gave Beijing an assist in pushing back against American outlets — and even President Donald Trump — claiming that it was “racist” to comment about the virus’ origin.
A number of public figures also joined the rallying cry, blaming Trump for “renaming” the virus to place blame unfairly on China.
But as some were quick to point out, American media outlets — some of the same who later pivoted to call it “racist” — referred to the coronavirus as “Wuhan coronavirus” before its rapid spread.
Even Chinese state media did the same before engaging in a pivot as well.