Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

WHO Now Says China Didn’t Report Coronavirus – Corrects Timeline

After implying for months that China followed international rules, the World Health Organization backtracks.

From April to June of this year, a COVID-19 timeline appeared on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO). That timeline has now been repudiated. If you visit the page today, you’ll be cryptically advised:

This statement is no longer maintained. An updated version was published on 29 June 2020. [hyperlink in the original]

That’s a fancy way of saying the WHO has made significant corrections.

For months, this organization misled us all. It implied that authorities within China had sounded the coronavirus alarm. The original WHO timeline said the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission had reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia. Here’s a screenshot:

old timeline; source here

The turquoise-coloured text is a hyperlink to the WHO’s first COVID press release, which likewise began with this misleading statement:

On 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. [bold added]

Every nation is legally obligated to promptly inform the WHO when medical cases of this kind arise. The procedure is straightforward. Designated individuals in national governments (not municipal health commissions) must contact designated WHO officials. In this case, information was supposed to flow from the top tier of the Chinese government to an individual in the WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office, based in Manila.

But that didn’t happen. The new, much longer text, admits the alarm was actually raised by members of the WHO’s own office in China, located in the diplomatic district of Beijing, just down the street from the Canadian and German embassies. That office wasn’t informed, as the press release puts it. Instead, it noticed, entirely of its own accord, a media statement posted on the Internet by Wuhan health authorities hundreds of miles away.

That same day, a different arm of the WHO noticed a news report on an online platform that monitors infectious diseases. It said an “urgent notice” had been issued by Wuhan health officials, due to hospitals having already treated a series of patients with “pneumonia of unknown cause.”

corrected timeline; click to enlarge

The WHO is supposed to “prevent the international spread of disease.” It does so via International Health Regulations (IHR) dating back to 1969. A new version of those rules came into force in 2007, in the aftermath of the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Article 6 of the IHR says countries must notify the WHO “within 24 hours” of unusual medical issues that have the potential to become international health emergencies. But the new timeline makes it clear that, as happened with SARS, the WHO had to ask China what was going on.

new version of timeline; click to enlarge, source here


old version of timeline; click to enlarge, source here


The old timeline contained no entries for January 2 or 3rd. The updated version tells us the WHO repeated its request for information on January 2nd. It says the first time the WHO heard from China was January 3rd.


When a United Nations body misleads the world, the damage isn’t easily fixed. We are now awash in inaccurate accounts of what actually happened.

Here’s MSN in January, republishing a CNN story that declares: “The first cases were reported to the World Health Organization on December 31.”

Here’s Le Monde in April: “On December 31, China notified the World Health Organization.”

Here’s a BBC timeline from June. Under the date ’31 December,’ clearly referencing China, it says: “The authorities alert the World Health Organization.”



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This entry was posted on July 20, 2020 by in ethical & philosophical, health, media and tagged , , , .