The World Health Organization on Friday defended China following US claims of a lack of transparency in Beijing’s response to the new coronavirus outbreak.
Larry Kudlow, head of the US National Economic Council, had said on Thursday: “We’re a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese”.
Kudlow also said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had assured US President Donald Trump that Beijing would accept US help, but “they won’t let us”.
But Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies programme, listed various ways in which he said China had collaborated with the international community.
“From our perspective, we have a government that’s cooperating with us… I’m finding it hard to square that with Mr Kudlow’s comments,” Ryan told reporters in Geneva.
“But everyone is entitled to their opinion and everyone is entitled to suggest evidence for their opinion,” he said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing has had an “open and transparent attitude” with the global community since the start of the epidemic, and maintained close communication and exchanged epidemic information with the US side in a “timely manner”.
Ryan also told reporters that there may be US experts among the 12 members of a WHO-led international mission to China that is expected to begin over the weekend.
Asked whether there had been any mistakes made by Chinese authorities in their response to the outbreak, Ryan said: “It’s not the time for us to start public recrimination.”
“China and the rest of the world… will learn and I hope to implement the lessons of this. One of the tragedies of global response and public health response, in general, has been that we don’t tend to learn the lessons,” he said.
“Everyone needs to focus on performance now, and they need to focus on getting the job done and the last thing you tell someone that needs to get a job done is that you didn’t do your job last week or the week before,” he said.
“We will wait for any forensic investigation of this response until we’ve achieved further success in containing this virus we hope,” he added.