China ready to receive WHO experts to probe COVID-19 origin
(Sourced from PTI)
China is ready to receive a World Health Organization expert team to probe the COVID-19 origin, a senior Chinese official informed the media but gave no specific timeline for the visit. The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday had expressed disappointment over China not finalizing the necessary permissions for the expert team's arrival.
Zeng Yixin, Deputy Head of the National Health Commission, said, "The exact time on when the WHO expert team will arrive in Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December last, and investigate into the coronavirus origin is still under negotiation." "China and the WHO have reached a consensus on specific arrangements of the investigation with four video conferences," Yixin told Global Times.
Talking about the investigation in Wuhan, Ghebreyesus said that he made it clear that the mission was a priority for the UN health agency and it was eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible.
Yixin stressed that China's position on the WHO investigation is positive, open, and supportive, and the country hopes such joint efforts would help deepen the understanding of the virus and prevent infectious diseases in the future. "Once the WHO experts complete their procedures and finalize the schedule, Chinese experts will go to Wuhan with them to conduct the investigation," he told Xinhua news agency.
Reacting to Ghebreyesus's comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, "We hope the details can be determined as soon as possible. Hope the WHO can understand this." "There might be some misunderstanding about this. But there is no need to read too much into this. We always have smooth communication and pleasant cooperation. I believe it will continue," Hua added.
In May last year, the World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the 194-member states of the WHO, had asked the WHO to investigate the source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population.
China has been proactively questioning the widely-held view that the deadly outbreak broke out in a wet market in Wuhan where live animals, birds, and reptiles are sold and spread to humans. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a recent interview that China "raced against time" and was the first country to report coronavirus cases to the world.