WHO Team Blocked From Entering China To Study Origins Of Coronavirus

Emma Rosemurgey

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WHO Team Blocked From Entering China To Study Origins Of CoronavirusPA

China is said to have blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organization (WHO), which is investigating how the coronavirus pandemic began.

Two scientists on the team had already left their home countries and were on their way to Wuhan when Chinese officials opted not to approve the permissions needed to enter the country, despite the arrangements having been agreed with China in advance.

One of the team members was forced to return to their home country as a result of the visa issues, while another was waiting in transit in a different country until the issue is resolved, according to Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme.

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WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has expressed his disappointment at the news, adding that he had been in contact with senior Chinese officials, making it ‘clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team’.

He went on to say the United Nations organisation was ‘eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible,’ with officials in Beijing reportedly speeding up the processes to allow the team into the country, as per CNN.

Dr Ryan said he hoped it was merely a ‘logistical and bureaucratic issue,’ that can be resolved ‘in good faith in the coming hours and recommence the deployment of the team as soon as possible’.

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An investigation into the source of how the virus spread from its host species to humans has been a long time coming, with health officials having been negotiating with China for much of the last year.

It was in May 2020 the organisation agreed to hold an inquiry into the global response to the pandemic, following calls from more than 100 countries worldwide.

Earlier today, January 6, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, said the country had ‘always held an open, transparent and responsible attitude’ in getting to the bottom of where the virus came from, adding that they welcome the collaboration between the WHO team and Chinese experts.

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‘In order to ensure that the international expert group that comes to China can work smoothly, it is needed to fulfil the necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements. The two sides are still negotiating about this,’ she added.

Leaders in both the United States and Australia have heavily criticised the Chinese government for how it handled the initial outbreak of the virus, accusing officials of downplaying the seriousness of it and allowing it to spread.

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Topics: News, China, Coronavirus, Now, WHO, Wuhan

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CNN
  1. CNN

    WHO team blocked from entering China to study origins of coronavirus

Emma Rosemurgey
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