China and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have been blamed for “acting too slowly” in 2019 as coronavirus spread in the world.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, a WHO arm, has filed a report on its findings about the spread of coronavirus. It said Beijing and the WHO could have acted faster to arrest the spread of coronavirus during the early stages.

Measures should have been taken immediately in all countries where transmission was likely to spread to contain the virus, the Panel said in the second report it prepared on the disease. The report will be presented to the executive board of the WHO today.

The virus was first detected in Wuhan city of Hubei province in late 2019 before going beyond China’s borders to become a pandemic, claiming more than two million lives and destroyed economies.

The panel said it was clear that “public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January 2020.”

The report also lashed out at the WHO as it did not convene its emergency committee until January 22, 2020. And it took committee one more week to declare the outbreak “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — its highest alert level.

The report raised the question why the committee waited for three weeks to convene a meeting, and why it could not agree on declaring global emergency at the outset.

The UN health body has already faced claims it was too slow to declare an international crisis, to acknowledge the virus was spreading through the air, and to recommend face masks.

According to the report, the case numbers have been under counted from the start.

The report also questioned whether the WHO should have used the word “pandemic” earlier than it did.

The Panel hinted that countries may have taken the situation more seriously if the word “pandemic” had been used.

The Independent Panel, led by former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, began its work in July after WHO member states called for an impartial and comprehensive evaluation of its response to the pandemic.

The story was filed by the News Desk. The Desk can be reached at


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