A World Health Organization delegation is set to visit the Chinese city of Wuhan tomorrow to understand the origins of the pandemic. A team member on Wednesday claimed that the team will spend a month in Wuhan, including two weeks in quarantine.
A Vietnamese biologist – Hung Nguyen told Reuters that the team was not expecting any roadblocks in the work in China. On Thursday, the team will fly from Singapore to Wuhan, where the first instance of COVID-19 was recorded in late 2019.
Countries have called for an investigation into the origins of the virus, and have accused China of downplaying the severity of the virus, with the US claiming that this shortcoming caused the virus to spread globally.
The US had also criticised Chinese experts who had undertaken the first phase of research.
“My understanding is in fact there is no limit in accessing the information we might need for the team,” Hung told Reuters.
However, he did add the following – “We will see. We are not in China yet.”
Over the last few months, the WHO team has been conducting virtual meetings with researchers in China, in preparation for the trip.
WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had claimed that the organisation is looking forward to working with China, hoping to identify the source of the pandemic.
The organisation’s chief also claimed to have been “very disappointed” upon realising that China had denied authorisation to let in experts earlier in January, which caused two members to return. China claims that a “misunderstanding” had led to this.
The team will quarantine in a Wuhan hotel for two weeks, after which they will spend another two weeks interviewing people from various research institutes, hospitals, and wet markets in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have emerged.
In addition, the team is slated to stay in Wuhan for the majority of their trip.
The WHO had claimed that it is not looking for “culprits”, and is ready to go “anywhere and everywhere” to find the source of the virus.
Recently, China has been aggressively pushing the narrative of COVID-19 originating not in the country, but in Europe. It based these claims on the discovery of virus on imported frozen food packaging, and by putting forward scientific papers which posit that the virus has been making the rounds in Europe since 2019.