As the unprecedented outbreak of deadly Coronavirus has now spread to over 180 countries, Taiwan has accused the World Health Organisation of not communicating an early caution about human-to-human transmission and slowing the drastic spread of the pandemic. Financial Times has reported on March 20 that health officials in Taipei had alerted the United Nations health agency at the end of December about the risk of the pathogen being transmitted between humans. However, the officials also said that their concerns were not passed on to other countries.
According to reports, the Taiwanese doctors had learned from their colleagues in mainland China where the fatal virus was originated in December 2019 that the medical staff were falling ill from then-unnamed Coronavirus. It was the signal that the COVID-19 was being passed among humans and the WHO was made aware of the same on December 31. However, it was not communicated to other countries who later struggled to stem the spread of Coronavirus.
China has forbidden international organisations such as WHO, of which it is a member, to recognise Taiwan as a member in its own right. Chinese health officials later confirmed the human-to-human transmission on January 20. Taiwan’s Vice President Chen Chien-jen reportedly said that even though WHO gives a platform for all countries to share information on the pandemic and its response, any information presented by Taiwan was not made public.
Chen further reportedly said that the UN health agency could not receive first-hand information about the Coronavirus being transmitted among human, and because it waited until it was confirmed by China, the information was delayed for rest of the world. While responding to the accusations on its actions, WHO reportedly said that it needed to have ‘frank and open discussions’ on sensitive issues and it also calls for the respect of the confidentiality of those communications.
After United States President Donald Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, now Israel-based attorney has said China can be 'legally held accountable' for 'cover-ups' related to Coronavirus outbreak. Trump had earlier called the COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” because it had originated from the mainland and Pompeo had blamed China, Russia and Iran for spreading misinformation about the virus.
According to international media reports, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has said that an argument can be made in a similar way it is made for terrorism which is “legally actionable”. According to the Israel-based attorney, any government that engages in “reckless disregard and negligence” and “covers up an epidemic” which has a potential to spread to the entire world can be held legally liable. Nitsana, who has a specialization in suing terrorist regimes and state sponsors who practice a violation of human rights on behalf of the victims, was quoted in a report by an international media outlet.