China delayed releasing coronavirus info, frustrating WHO

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FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 file photo, Dr. Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization representative in China, speaks during an interview at the WHO offices in Beijing. WHO staffers debated how to press China for gene sequences and detailed patient data without angering authorities, worried about losing access and getting Chinese scientists into trouble. Under international law, WHO is required to share information and alerts with member countries about an evolving crisis quickly. Galea noted WHO could not afford to indulge China’s wish to sign off on such information and wait days before informing other countries because “that is not respectful of our responsibilities.” (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

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(AP)– Throughout January, the World Health Organization publicly praised China for what it called a speedy response to the new coronavirus. It repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the virus “immediately” and said its work and commitment to transparency were “very impressive, and beyond words.” But behind the scenes, there were significant delays by China and considerable frustration among WHO officials over the lack of outbreak data, The Associated Press has found.

China sat on releasing the genetic sequence for more than a week and stalled on sharing critical epidemic details with WHO throughout January.

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