WHO Admits to Error in Its Risk Assessment of China Coronavirus

Isabel van Brugen
By Isabel van Brugen
January 28, 2020COVID-19share
WHO Admits to Error in Its Risk Assessment of China Coronavirus
A nurse (C), wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city, looks at a thermometer at the Wuhan Fifth Hospital in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 24, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) admitted on Jan. 26 it made an error in its risk assessment of the new strain of coronavirus which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The U.N. agency admitted its mistake in a footnote (pdf) of a situation report Sunday, in which it said it “incorrectly summarized the risk for global level to be moderate” in three situation reports published on Jan. 23, 24, and 25.

“Note: Error in situation reports published on 23, 24, and 25 January as originally published, which incorrectly summarized the risk for global level to be moderate,” it read.

In fact, the risk was “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level,” the situation report states.

The Geneva-based agency added that its correction of the global risk assessment does not mean that it would be declaring an international health emergency.

The WHO had been scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Jan. 22 to discuss the virus and whether to declare a public health emergency of international concern, but it postponed making the call saying physicians need more information.

At the time, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked his committee to reconvene the following day, telling reporters the decision is one he takes “extremely seriously” and it would only be made after “appropriate consideration of all the evidence.”

He later announced on Sunday he was en route to Beijing to meet with Chinese officials and health experts for a meeting on the coronavirus response so far.

“I am on my way to Beijing to meet with the government & health experts supporting the [coronavirus] response. My [WHO] colleagues & I would like to understand the latest developments & strengthen our partnership with [China] in providing further protection against the outbreak,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

“We are working 24/7 to support [China] & its people during this difficult time & remain in close contact with affected countries, with our regional & country offices deeply involved. [WHO] is updating all countries on the situation & providing specific guidance on what to do to respond.”

The WHO, however, has not declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a global health emergency.

A WHO spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email that there had only been an error in the wording of the situation reports.

“As explained in the footnote, it was an error in the wording in the situation reports dated 23, 24 and 25 January, and we corrected it yesterday with a footnote explanation,” the spokesperson said.

“It should read in the sitreps 23, 24, 25 January that the Risk assessment is VERY High in China, High at the regional level, and HIGH at the global level (and not MODERATE) at the global level.”

On Tuesday the United States and other governments prepared to fly their citizens out of the locked-down city of Wuhan—the epicenter of the outbreak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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