After months of negotiations, the Chinese Communist Party agreed in December to investigate the World Health Organization (WHO) origin of coronovirus. The investigation is a strange start to the WHO team members being denied entry into China.
On Tuesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adnom Ghebius told reporters in Geneva that Chinese authorities had so far cleared for WHO investigators. Two members of the 10-man team were in transit to China because it was known that Chinese officials were not allowing them into the country. One has returned home, while the other is temporarily living in a different country.
“In the last 24 hours, members of the international scientific team on COVID-19 virus genesis began a trip to China from their home countries,” Ghebreyes said. “Today we learned that the Chinese authorities have not yet finalized the necessary permission for the team to come to China.”
“I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal process for deployment as soon as possible.”
The first cases of COVID-19 were detected in China’s Wuhan city of Hubei province in December 2019, but scientists do not know the exact origin of the virus. It is believed to have been transported from one animal species to another, probably originating from bats and mutations along the way, before widespread transmission through Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
Several governments, including the US, India and Australia, have called for international investigations into the origin of COVID-19. In question is the prevalence of “wet markets” such as “Hutton Seafood Wholesale Market”, where often, often exotic species of animals are kept close to each other, which are considered breeding grounds for animal transmission to animals, where Coronovirus can mutate rapidly. Separately, it is a question of how far the Chinese government attempted to cover the virus, and in doing so inadvertently allowed it to spread worldwide.
The WHO investigation first sought answers on the issue. The WHO team plans to investigate the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market (along with other wet markets throughout Wuhan), visit nearby medical facilities, and talk to previously recorded COVID-19 patients. The investigation will then expand to areas across China.
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