'What Coverup?': WHO Refuses To Acknowledge China's Early Censorship Of Outbreak

Update (0816ET): For the most part, the WHO briefing on its visit was everything we feared it would be: Nothing revelatory, just long, boring droning and lukewarm praise about China's response to the outbreak, without once mentioning any kind of coverup.

One reporter apparently felt empowered to challenge the Chinese censors and ask about the cover-up, to which the WHO responded: 'What coverup?'

Outstanding work, gentlemen.

It's become clear that the WHO visit was merely a global confidence-building exercise, as the rest of Yoon's account shows:

Source: Eunice Yoon

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Update (0645ET): The press conference has started, and it looks like CNBC's Eunice Yoon is livetweeting:

Here are a few key findings on the nature of the virus:

  • No mutations have been discovered in any of the more than 100 patients whose virus samples were subjected to genome sequencing.
  • Average age is 51 years, age range primarily 30-59 years old, 70% of cases from Hubei
  • Bat is the host, and pangolin might be one of the 'intermediate host' - but research is ongoing.
  • There is risk of fecal-oral transmission, but this is not the major way of transmission in China - once again research is ongoing
  • Cluster cases observed in two provinces were mostly observed in families
  • That 'secondary infections' mostly occurred in families, not communities, shows 'effectiveness' of China's approach
  • Virus is a new pathogen that is age indifferent; public is 'universally suspectible'
  • Most early cases had association with seafood market where zoonomic transmission first occurred
  • Decline of new confirmed cases and onsets since lockdown began

Already, it's sounding like the briefing is a giant sop to Beijing; researchers around the world have warned of evidence of mutation. And the note that China's approach has been 'effective' sounds like propaganda.

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Update (0625ET): A press briefing that was supposed to start at 6 has apparently been delayed, according to CNBC's Eunice Yoon.

A crowd of journalists is gathered in Beijing waiting to hear.

If we had to guess on a reason, we suspect the WHO team is probably haggling with a group of Chinese censors right about now.

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The team of WHO scientists that visited Wuhan over the weekend will deliver its 'technical briefing' on its findings at 6 am ET Monday.

This could be a critical moment in the outbreak because it will be the first time the world hears an account of what's happening in Wuhan that hasn't been completely filtered through Beijing's propaganda machine (though we suspect that what they have to say won't be too shocking since China is airing the briefing on its domestic television networks).

As those who have been closely following the outbreak should recall, Beijing begrudgingly allowed 2 Americans to join the team on its fact-finding mission across China, which also included stops in Beijing, Sichuan Province and Guangdong Province.

Watch live below. It's slated to start at 6 am: