No Chinese pressure to withhold info: WHO (Bigstock)
The World Health Organisation has dismissed as "false allegations" a media report that it withheld information about the coronavirus following pressure from the Chinese government.
The UN agency said in a statement that a German magazine's report about a telephone conversation between WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 21 was "unfounded and untrue".
Weekly Der Spiegel reported that Xi asked Tedros during the call to hold back information about human-to-human transmission of the virus and delay declaring a pandemic.
The magazine quoted Germany's foreign intelligence agency, BND, which declined to comment on Sunday.
Der Spiegel also claimed that the BND concluded up to six weeks of time to fight the outbreak had been lost due to China's information policy.
The UN agency said Tedros and Xi "have never spoken by phone" and added that "such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO's and the world's efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic".
Statement on False Allegations in @derspiegel: Reports of a 21 Jan phone call between @DrTedros & 🇨🇳 President Xi are unfounded & untrue. They didn’t speak on 21 Jan & have never spoken by 📞— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 9, 2020
Such inaccurate reports distract & detract from WHO's & the 🌍’s efforts to end #COVID19
It said that China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus on January 20.
WHO officials issued a statement two days later saying there was evidence of human-to-human transmission in Wuhan but more investigation was necessary.
The global body declared COVID-19 a pandemic on February 11.
© AP 2020