China blocks investigation into coronavirus origins, WHO chief 'disappointed'
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment after China blocked an investigation into the origins of coronavirus. A team of experts from the United Nations body was supposed to visit Wuhan, the ground zero of the pandemic, but at the eleventh hour, they were told that Chinese officials hadn't given them the permission required to enter the country.
China had agreed to team's visit, but later changed stance
Addressing an online press conference in Geneva, Ghebreyesus disclosed two scientists of the UN team had already left their home countries for Wuhan, but in vain. Notably, the UN agency had entered into an arrangement with President Xi Jinping's government for this trip. "Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team's arrival in China," he said.
'I am very disappointed'
"I am very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials," Ghebreyesus told the media on Tuesday.
WHO wants to get the mission underway soon
WHO has been planning to send a team to China to probe the virus' origins for months now. Ghebreyesus said the international body wanted to "get the mission underway as soon as possible" while adding that he was in contact with Chinese authorities. Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on animal diseases that cross the species barrier, has been chosen to lead the mission.
This is frustrating, said another top WHO official
Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said one member of the 10-member-strong team returned home and another is stuck in a transit country. "This is frustrating and, as the director-general said, disappointing. That disappointment has been expressed very clearly by Dr. Tedros directly to our counterparts in China," Ryan said. He hoped this is just a "logistic and bureaucratic issue."
Another expert believes virus' origins will never be ascertained
Meanwhile, Ilona Kickbusch, the Founding Director and Chair of the Global Health Centre in Geneva, remarked that geopolitics has stopped countries from uniting in the battle against COVID-19. "I think it will be incredibly difficult to be able to find the origin of the virus because so much time has passed," she said. The virus that originated in Wuhan has already killed 1,876,243 people.
China working hard to fight criticism and anger
Evidently, China has been pulled up by countries like the United States and Australia for not acting fast enough and letting the virus cross borders. The pandemic has battered economies and wrecked healthcare systems. But the Jinping regime has launched propaganda to suggest it did the best it could. The nation also offered "help" to a troubled globe in a bid to silence critics.
Ghebreyesus's response to outbreak was also dubbed inefficient
Beijing has also gone on an overdrive to insinuate that the virus originated in other countries, dismissing all the existing evidence. Like China, Ghebreyesus has also invited flak for believing the Asian country's version of the outbreak at face value and not speaking about the severity of the situation much earlier. It was his handling that prompted the US to snap ties with WHO.