Leaked recordings from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that China sat on releasing crucial information about the coronavirus for over a week in January. Ironically, the WHO publicly praised China throughout the month for what it called a prompt response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Back in January, the WHO repeatedly thanked the Chinese government for sharing the genetic map of the novel coronavirus immediately. However, leaked information from the organization suggests that China actually withheld vital data about the virus for more than a week while it was already starting to spread rapidly across different countries.

“We’re currently at the stage where yes, they’re giving it to us 15 minutes before it appears on CCTV,” said WHO top official Dr. Gauden Galea, referring to the China Central Television, during a meeting.

Based on the leak information, Chinese officials deliberately released the genetic map of the deadly virus more than a week after several government labs had fully decoded it. The aim of the Chinese officials was allegedly to not share details key to designing tests, drugs, and vaccines for the virus.

Health officials only released the genome on Jan. 11, after a Chinese lab had published it on a virology website. Based on recordings of multiple internal meetings held by the U.N. health agency in January, China pushed back for at least two weeks more on giving the W.H.O the details necessary to assess the risk posed by the coronavirus.

Despite the minimal information given to them by China, officials of the WHO still portrayed China in the best light, allegedly to lure the communist country into providing more details about the outbreak. WHO officials were also reportedly worried about angering Chinese authorities or jeopardizing their scientists, whom they initially commended for decoding the genome immediately.

According to Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency chief, the best way to protect China was for the WHO to conduct its own analysis of the virus.

Since the pandemic, several country leaders have criticized China for keeping the world in the dark about the virus. However, China has repeatedly denied the accusations, claiming they’ve always been in touch with the WHO.

coronavirus The documentary demonstrates Guangzhou's prevention and control work from January 22 to March 22, 2020. It is expected to share the Chinese city's experience with countries and people that are fighting COVID-19. Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash