Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) shed light on the misinterpretation around the January 14, 2020 tweet from the official Twitter handle of WHO that posted a message ‘preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus’ saying that the tweet was a report from China (which is a Member State) and WHO posted the report as is, it did not agree or disagree with China’s report.
India based journalist Savio Rodrigues, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, GoaChronicle.com, questioned Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO at the Global Media briefing on April 6, 2020. He asked:
On January 14th, 2020 W.H.O stated ‘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.’ As an independent global health organisation why did WHO have to rely on China’s preliminary investigations into the human-to-human transmission possibility of the coronavirus and not conduct one of its own investigations?
Clarifying on WHO’s stand while answering to the question, Dr Tedros expressed: The rule we have in WHO and other UN agencies is when a member state reports we post the member state report as is. What we did on January 14th on Twitter is we posted China’s report as is. That doesn’t mean that we agree or we disagree; we’re just reporting what came. If India reports we post India’s report as is. If my own country, Ethiopia, reports we post the report that came from Ethiopia as is and we treat the same way all 194 member states.
“But when we post their reports on our Twitter or website or wherever we just put it as is and we don’t change anything. But at the same time if we have some differences with what is reported, we can say it. Before January 13th Dr Maria Van Kerkhove and other colleagues were saying, there is a likelihood of human-to-human transmission. Even on January 14th Dr Maria Van Kerkhove and other colleagues were briefing journalists and they said, there is a likelihood of human-to-human transmission. Our guidance reflected all that,” Dr Tedros further elucidated.
He further expressed that when China officially reported that it discovered human-to-human transmission January 22nd we just reported again exactly as we received it from China. That’s a normal procedure and we do it for any country but that doesn’t mean that we accept or not and we express our own opinion. The most important thing is our guidance before, during 14th and after actually included the likelihood of human-to-human transmission. That helped countries to prepare.”