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WHO panel criticizes China, other countries, for not acting more speedily to prevent pandemic

Months ago it was revealed that China withheld valuable information from WHO officials

Updated: January 19, 2021 - 11:31am

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An expert panel assembled by the World Health Organization has released a report raising concerns about whether China and several other countries responded fast enough at the outset of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The panel also questioned whether the WHO should have given the spread of the virus the title "pandemic" earlier. 

The report, released Monday, was compiled by such experts as former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand. The panel wrote there were "lost opportunities" to prepare for the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January," reads the report. 

The report also criticizes a handful of countries for failing to act immediately when cases of the novel illness were detected inside their borders.

"The reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging pandemic," continues the report.

The WHO has been the subject of scrutiny since the virus was detected in late-2019 in Wuhan, China – for its initial and ongoing response.

President Trump has led been among those most critical about China and the WHO's transparency and response.

Members of the WHO publicly lauded the response effort of the Chinese government, while privately complaining that Chinese authorities were blocking access to valuable information. 

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