China denies President Xi spoke to WHO chief Tedros on delaying coronavirus warning

After the German media reported that China’s President Xi had phoned World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom to delay warning on the coronavirus in January, China’s foreign ministry said that the Chinese leader “did not speak with the WHO director-general”.

“WHO has made detailed clarifications on it. We hope that the relevant media will strictly abide by the professional ethics of journalism and not disseminate false information,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

“The Chinese leader did not speak with the World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general on January 21,” it added.

A report in Germany’s Der Spiegel had said that President Xi had called up Tedros on January 21 during which the Chinese leader had asked the WHO chief to “hold back information about human-to-human transmission and to delay a pandemic warning.”

The German media report had cited the country’s intelligence service as its source behind the revelation. However, China’s foreign ministry dismissed reports of a phone call between President Xi and Tedros on January 21.

US President Trump has been attacking the WHO for weeks accusing it of a “China bais” even as the UK, Canada, Australia and Germany have asked for an independent probe into the origin of the virus.

The German report had said that China’s information policy had led to a loss of four to six weeks to fight the virus worldwide.

WHO has already dismissed the report saying that “January 21 phone call between Dr Tedros and President Xi are unfounded and untrue.”