China says WHO team to probe COVID-19 origins will arrive Thursday

BEIJING/GENEVA (Reuters) - A World Health Organization (WHO) team of international experts tasked with investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic will arrive in China on Jan. 14, Chinese authorities said on Monday. Lack of authorisation from Beijing had delayed the arrival of the 10-strong team on a long-awaited mission to investigate early infections, in what China's foreign ministry called a 'misunderstanding'

Reuters January 12, 2021 01:10:18 IST
China says WHO team to probe COVID-19 origins will arrive Thursday

COVID-19 origins will arrive Thursday" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/01-2021/12/2021-01-11T070113Z_1_LYNXMPEH0A0A9_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-VACCINE-WHO.jpg" alt="China says WHO team to probe COVID19 origins will arrive Thursday" width="300" height="225" />

BEIJING/GENEVA (Reuters) - A World Health Organization (WHO) team of international experts tasked with investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic will arrive in China on Jan. 14, Chinese authorities said on Monday.

Lack of authorisation from Beijing had delayed the arrival of the 10-strong team on a long-awaited mission to investigate early infections, in what China's foreign ministry called a "misunderstanding".

The National Health Commission, which announced the arrival date, delayed from its early January schedule, did not detail the team's itinerary, however.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the news and said that studies would begin in the central city of Wuhan where the first human cases were identified.

"We look forward to working closely with our (Chinese) counterparts on this critical mission to identify the virus source & its route of introduction to the human population," Tedros wrote on Twitter. He previously said he was "very disappointed" when experts were denied entry earlier this month, forcing two members of the team to turn back.

China has been accused of a cover-up that delayed its initial response, allowing the virus to spread since it first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late in 2019.

The United States has called for a "transparent" WHO-led investigation and criticised its terms, which allowed Chinese scientists to do the first phase of preliminary research.

Ahead of the trip, Beijing has been seeking to shape the narrative about when and where the pandemic began, with senior diplomat Wang Yi saying "more and more studies" showed it emerged in multiple regions.

A health expert affiliated with the WHO said expectations should be "very low" that the team will reach a conclusion from their trip to China.

WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan sought to defuse tensions around the trip at a virtual press briefing later on Monday.

"We are looking for the answers here that may save us in future - not culprits and not people to blame," he said, adding that the WHO was willing to go "anywhere and everywhere" to find out how the virus emerged.

While other countries continue to struggle with infection surges, China has aggressively doused flare-ups.

Sunday's 103 new cases were mainland China's biggest daily increase in more than five months, as new infections rise in the province of Hebei, surrounding the capital, Beijing.

Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, went into lockdown and Hebei closed down some sections of highways in the province to curb the spread of the virus.

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus : https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps)

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Emma Farge and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Michael Perry and Toby Chopra)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Canada's Ontario to keep schools closed longer as COVID-19 cases among children rise
World

Canada's Ontario to keep schools closed longer as COVID-19 cases among children rise

By Moira Warburton TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Ontario will keep elementary schools in its southern regions closed for in-person learning until Jan.

Pompeo angers China with Hong Kong threat, plan to send envoy to Taiwan
World

Pompeo angers China with Hong Kong threat, plan to send envoy to Taiwan

By David Brunnstrom and Gabriel Crossley WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) -Washington may sanction those involved in the arrest of over 50 people in Hong Kong and will send the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to visit Taiwan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, drawing anger and the threat of retaliation from Beijing.

Iranian ship arrives at Venezuelan port, data shows
World

Iranian ship arrives at Venezuelan port, data shows

CARACAS (Reuters) - An Iranian ship arrived at the Venezuelan port of La Guaira on Thursday, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, in what appeared to be a continuation of the commercial alliance between the two countries targeted by U.S. sanctions. Iran has been supplying gasoline to ease fuel shortages in Venezuela caused by decay of the South American nation's refineries and worsened by sanctions.