Nikki Haley accuses WHO of taking 'China's word' on coronavirus transmission

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Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley took aim at the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, saying the health body owes an explanation for why “they took China’s word” on the claim that coronavirus could not be spread from person to person -- a claim now known to be entirely false.

Haley, who left Turtle Bay in 2018, flagged a tweet by WHO from January that quoted “preliminary” findings from Chinese authorities that downplayed the seriousness of the virus that has since turned into a pandemic, shutting down daily life around the globe.

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“Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan,” the tweet said, with a #China hashtag.

It is one of a number of claims made by the Chinese government, and one that was amplified by the world body, that has caused the U.S. to accuse China of suppressing the nature of the virus -- something that would leave the rest of the world blindsided.

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Haley wants to know why that claim was echoed by the global health body.

“This was posted by the WHO on January 14th. The WHO owes an explanation to the world of why they took China’s word for it,” she tweeted. “So much suffering has been caused by the mishandling of information and lack of accountability by the Chinese.”

WHO officials have come under increased scrutiny for their alleged closeness to the Chinese government, and U.S. lawmakers are asking to what extent they have echoed Chinese propaganda.

Last week, a resolution introduced in the House and Senate called on WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to retract what they called “highly misleading statements of support for the response of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”

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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., meanwhile pointed to the same tweet flagged by Haley and accused WHO of playing “favoritism” to China.

Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., called for the director to resign.

“The WHO needs to stop covering for them,” she said on Fox Business Network's "Mornings with Maria."

“I think Dr. Tedros needs to step down. We need to take some action to address this issue. It's just irresponsible, it’s unconscionable what they have done here while we have people dying across the globe.”