By Ben Blanchard

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s health minister asked the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday to ensure the island had access to first-hand information about the coronavirus, saying that not having the full picture slows down epidemic-prevention work.

Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO – China, which considers the island one of its provinces, objects to Taiwan’s membership – has infuriated Taipei. Officials there say it has created a gap in the global fight against the coronavirus and threatened the island’s health.

Speaking to foreign reporters in Taipei, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan wanted proper access to the WHO.

“For Taiwan, what we want is first-hand information. Any second-hand information slows down any actions we take, and distorts our judgement about the epidemic, like