WHO team probing coronavirus origins to visit on Thursday: China
A team of experts from the World Health Organization are due to reach China on January 14 to probe the origins of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, officials said on Monday. China notably faces criticism for the coronavirus pandemic and has repeatedly claimed that the virus did not emerge from the country. It had also attempted to delay the probe into the origins of the virus.
WHO will conduct field visit on January 14: Health Commission
China's National Health Commission was quoted by the state-run CGTN as saying that experts from the WHO will conduct a field visit to China on January 14. Earlier on Saturday, the commission's deputy head, Zeng Yixin, had told reporters that China and the WHO had reached a consensus on specific arrangements of the investigation with four video conferences.
After WHO's visit, Chinese experts will reach Wuhan
After the WHO experts complete their procedures and finalize the schedule, Chinese experts will go to Wuhan—where infections were first reported—with them to conduct the investigation, Zeng said. On Saturday, Zeng had said the exact time of the WHO team's arrival was under negotiations.
Delay in probe irked WHO chief
The confirmation on WHO's China visit comes after the health body's chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed disappointment for Beijing's failure to finalize necessary permissions for the experts' arrival. In the past, Dr. Tedros has also faced criticism for taking a pro-China stance and for not warning global leaders about the danger of the outbreak in its initial stages early last year.
Virus first reported in Wuhan wet market
Coronavirus infections were first reported in China's Wuhan city in late-2019. The Huanan seafood market—where meats and live animals are sold—is widely believed to be the source of the virus. The market has remained closed since the outbreak started. A year into the outbreak, 90.3 million people have been infected globally, while over 1.9 million have lost their lives.
China claims virus first emerged elsewhere
China has said that it was the first country to report the coronavirus but has claimed that the pandemic started with scattered outbreaks worldwide. In May last year, the World Health Assembly (WHA)—the governing body of the WHO member states—had approved a resolution for an independent inquiry of the international response. It had also ordered the WHO to probe the source of the virus.