Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic: December 31, 2019 – Taiwan Notified WHO of Unknown Pneumonia Outbreak in Wuhan, and Hinted at Possible Human-to-Human Transmission


On December 31, 2019, Taiwan CDC sent an email notifying WHO of the unknown pneumonia found in Wuhan, and requested WHO to share further information. People’s Daily tried to downplay the outbreak

On December 31, 2019, Taiwan CDC sent an email notifying WHO of the unknown pneumonia found in Wuhan, asked WHO to share further details. 

In the email, Taiwan CDC pointed out that the Chinese authorities have isolated the cases, hinting at possible human-to-human transmission: “Their health authorities replied to the media that the cases were believed not SARS; however the samples are still under examination, and cases have been isolated for treatment.”

Email from Taiwan CDC to WHO, sent on December 31, 2019

A press release from Taiwan CDC on April 11, 2020 provides more details on the background of this email: “To be prudent, in the email we took pains to refer to atypical pneumonia, and specifically noted that patients had been isolated for treatment. Public health professionals could discern from this wording that there was a real possibility of human-to-human transmission of the disease. However, because at the time there were as yet no cases of the disease in Taiwan, we could not state directly and conclusively that there had been human-to-human transmission.”

According to the press release, WHO didn’t provide any substantial information: “However, in response to our inquiries, the WHO IHR focal point only responded with a short message stating that Taiwan’s information had been forwarded to expert colleagues; China provided only a press release.”

Also on December 31, 2019, People’s Daily published an article titled Unknown Pneumonia in Wuhan Isn’t Necessarily SARS, 7 Severe Cases Found.

The author said in the article: “According to our investigations, most patients of this pneumonia are the shop owners in Hua-Nan Wet Market. Currently the isolation and diagnosis of the pathogen are underway. Meanwhile, the quarantine and sanitization work are being carried out.

According to several doctors in Wuhan, the cause of the disease is still unknown, and contrary to what the rumors online suggested, we are not sure if SARS is the cause yet. (In fact), this is more likely to be some other types of pneumonia, and even if it really is SARS, we already have a fairly mature prevention and treatment system in place, so there is no need for the public to panic.”

Disclaimer: This article only represents the author’s view. Gnews is not responsible for any legal risks.

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