Taiwan complains to WHO for misnumbering coronavirus cases

02/04/2020 10:51 PM
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Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) Taiwan lodged a protest with the World Health Organization (WHO) after it listed 13 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus for the country under the "Taiwan, China" category in a situation report Tuesday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said that day.

The government demanded the WHO correct the number of confirmed cases to 10 and Taiwan's designation, according to the CECC.

A total of 1,166 suspected cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported in Taiwan as of Monday, 968 of which have been ruled out as coronavirus cases, with the others still under quarantine, according to Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.

The WHO indicated Taiwan has 13 confirmed cases in a report issued Tuesday. "This is fake news," Chen said, adding that Taiwan reported only 10 confirmed cases and the government has lodged a protest with the WHO, though that number was increased to 11 late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the CECC issued a statement the same day, indicating that the WHO inaccurately listed the number of confirmed cases from Taiwan and improperly placed the number under the "Taiwan, China" category.

The center said it has filed a protest with the WHO through a channel under the International Health Regulations, demanding a correction.

The novel coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and has now been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO.

The first 10 people in Taiwan confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus are in stable condition. A total of 513 people have come into close contact with them, 38 of whom have reported coronavirus-like symptoms, with 34 ruled out as coronavirus cases, while the other four are still undergoing testing for the virus.

Taiwan raised the issue with the WHO, of which it is not a member, after the 146th session of the WHO Executive Board opened Monday in Geneva.

During the session, a Chinese representative said China has regularly shared information about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, giving the international community the impression that Taiwan is part of China and has not been left out of disease prevention efforts.

Since the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak started last month, China has made relevant information transparent and shared it in a timely manner, the representative said, adding that since Jan. 3 China has shared information about the new coronavirus with WHO members, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

There is a good communication channel between Taiwan and China on the outbreak. The mainland has since late last month shared information with Taiwan 30 times, while Taiwan has done the same 13 times, according to the representative.

However, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the top government agency dealing with cross-strait affairs, issued a statement Tuesday that indicated although the two sides have agreed to share information, that does not remove the need for Taiwan to take part in the WHO.

The MAC also denied Beijing's statement that China has provided Taiwan with timely information about the coronavirus outbreak.

It called on the Chinese government to remove political obstacles to Taiwan's WHO participation, adding that the government will continue to seek support from the international community for Taiwan's bid to join the organization.

The foreign ministry also said Taiwan has not received timely and useful information and was excluded from the WHO's emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.

The ministry said that China should not use the "one China" principle as a political precondition to impede Taiwan from participating in international organizations such as the WHO.

It added that Taiwan should not be left behind and become a blind spot in the global effort to fight the epidemic.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Chang Ming-hsun, Miao Zhon-han and Evelyn Kao)

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