Chinese President Xi Jinping had requested the World Health Organisation (WHO) to downplay the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, Germany’s federal intelligence agency has reportedly claimed. According to a report of German publication Der Speigel, Xi had personally requested the WHO chief on January 21 to delay the message about the disease and downplay the seriousness of the threat.
The WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30. The UN health agency kept warning about the possibility of a pandemic but officially declared the infectious disease as a pandemic on March 11 following which countries around the world started taking aggressive action to avert the looming crisis.
The United States has emerged as a staunch critic of the UN agency and blamed it for being “China-centric”. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo had even warned that Washington may never restore the funding of WHO and could even set up an alternative body to the UN agency that will deliver on the “intended purposes”. In a radio interview on April 23, the top US diplomat hinted at a "reform" while questioning the ability of the WHO to perform its primary function.
After Pompeo’s warning, five US Republican Senators introduced a bill on May 6 to review the “accountability and effectiveness” of US participation in the WHO and other international institutions. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with four other members introduced the Multilateral Aid Review Act of 2020 (MAR Act).
However, the WHO has continuously insisted that it sounded the alarm on the novel coronavirus right from the very start and had hidden nothing about the deadly virus. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asserted during a press briefing that the presence of embedded US government secondees working at the headquarters in Geneva meant there was nothing being concealed from Washington.