China rebuffs WHO report claiming slow COVID response

China rebuffs WHO report claiming slow COVID response

Beijing says it was ‘decisive’ but panel criticizes ‘lost opportunities’

SHANGHAI — China deflected criticism on Tuesday that the government was slow to react to the initial COVID-19 outbreak that spread globally.

Responding to the World Health Organization’s independent panel report released on Monday, China’s foreign ministry defended Beijing’s initial actions. “China was the first country to alert the world about the epidemic even when it did not have sufficient information,” spokesperson Hua Chunying said at the ministry’s daily press briefing.

“It then made a decisive decision on early detection, quarantine and treatment that bought time in handling the epidemic, and reduced the number of infections and deaths.”

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response established by WHO released a preliminary report on Monday that criticized both the WHO and China for dragging their feet at the initial stage of the outbreak.