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A team of scientists sent by the World Health Organization to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan will arrive in China on Thursday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Monday – over a year since the start of the epidemic.
The announcement comes days after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointedWith apparent delays in approving the visit, which has been under development since last summer. The team was supposed to start their investigations in the first week of January, but China has reportedly not approved their visas.
“In order to ensure the smooth running of the work of the international group of experts in China, the necessary procedures must be followed and specific relevant arrangements must be made. At present, the two sides are still in discussion, ”said Hua Chunying, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry. during a press conference asked about Tedros comments last week.
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The next investigation is the second investigation by the WHO into the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in China. However, the WHO sent scientists to China to investigate the Wuhan outbreak in February last year. Beijing paralyzed their work.
At first, Beijing denied the group access to Wuhan, which was still under lockdown. Eventually, the government allowed a small team to visit the city, but prevented them from going to hospitals or the seafood market where the outbreak was believed to have originated.
The failure of the first investigative team to fully probe the Wuhan outbreak prompted members of WHO’s governing body, the World Health Authority, to issue a resolution calling for a new international investigation in May of last year. The resolution was passed, setting the stage for the investigation from Thursday.
Beijing opposed the resolution, punishment against Australia for its spearheading role. Beijing imposed new tariffs and lockdowns on Australian imports shortly after the resolution was passed, even though the scope of the investigation is much smaller than Canberra had hoped.
The WHO mission is responsible for investigating the animal origins of the coronavirus, as well as the role of the wet market in precipitating the early epidemic. The team will also comb through hospital records to identify any potential cases of COVID-19 that occurred before November 17, 2019, the first COVID-19 patient identified by China.
Beijing has long pushed against the narrative that COVID-19 “originated” from China, instead claiming Wuhan was only the first place to identify the new virus. State media present the next investigation in China as part of a global investigation into the origins of the virus and often point to reports suggesting that COVID-19 has appeared in Europe earlier than initially thought.
Meanwhile, a fringe theory that continues to circulate across China suggests the virus was imported to Wuhan with frozen food from another country.
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