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Reality Check of US Allegations Against China on COVID-19 (XVII)
2020/05/14

17. Allegation: Taiwan gave warning to WHO about human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 as early as 31 December 2019, but it was not taken seriously.

Reality Check: The Taiwan region of China did not send any warning to WHO. What it did was asking for more information from the organization after the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the disease.

 

◆After Wuhan reported cases of pneumonia of unknown cause on 31 December 2019, the local health department in Taiwan sent a letter to the National Health Commission (NHC) inquiring about the information released by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. The NHC promptly made a written reply through the designated contact points specified in the Cross-Strait Cooperation Agreement on Medicine and Public Health Affairs. On the same day, the health department in Taiwan sent the so-called "warning email" to WHO. The email made no reference to human-to-human transmission. It was primarily an inquiry about information from WHO. The facts are clear. It was the mainland of China who first released the information, and the health department in Taiwan merely relayed the message. There is no such thing as "Taiwan reported to WHO first".

◆WHO has made it clear time and again that the Taiwan region of China did not give it "warning", but was purely requesting relevant information. WHO had already received multiple inquiry emails from other sides before Taiwan sent the email. On 20 April, WHO again clarified the matter at its press briefing, noting that it was not until 21 January that the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in China's Taiwan region. Prior to that, Taiwan did not have any first-hand information on clinical cases, let alone the ability to determine whether there was human-to-human transmission.

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