WHO specialists arrive in Wuhan for new coronavirus inquiry

World | 14 Jan 2021 11:50 am

Chinese state media says the  WHO research team has arrived in Wuhan, in the central province of Hubei to investigate origins of the new coronavirus, which emerged in the city in December last year and ungulfed the world rapidly.

he 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping's government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of the WHO.

Scientists suspect the virus that has killed 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China's southwest.

The ruling Communist Party, stung by complaints it allowed the disease to spread, says the virus came from abroad, possibly on imported seafood, but scientists reject that.

The WHO team includes virus and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.

The team will be quarantined after arrival, which usually lasts two weeks. They are to start working with Chinese experts via video conference while in quarantine.

Negotiations for the visit have long been underway. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment last week over delays, saying that members of the international scientific team departing from their home countries had already started on their trip as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government, AP reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China had approved the visit following consultations between the sides and called it an opportunity to “exchange views with Chinese scientists and medical experts on scientific cooperation on the tracing of the origin of the new coronavirus.”

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