China is holding back the search for the origin of the virus
China continues to delay the entry of experts on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) to explore the origins of the coronavirus. Foreign Office spokeswoman Hua Chunying justified the delay in front of the press in Beijing with necessary preparations. “We still have difficulties to overcome in order to advance our internal preparations and create good conditions for the experts to come to China.”
The Chinese government and the WHO are still in consultations about the visit of the experts, said the spokeswoman. Finding the origin of the virus is a complicated matter. “We have to go through the necessary procedures and make special arrangements.” According to her understanding, it is “not just about visas, but also about appointments and some other details”.
The spokeswoman reacted to the frustration on the part of the WHO after China had blocked entry at the last minute, as her boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the day before in Geneva. According to this, some of the experts had already started the trip, had turned around or had stopped their departure. Contrary to what was agreed, Beijing announced at short notice that the necessary entry documents were not yet available, according to emergency aid coordinator Michael Ryan.
It was planned that the experts would only have to be in quarantine for two weeks after arriving in China. The WHO has been negotiating this expert mission with China for months. The discussions made only slow progress. Every single expert has to be approved by the Chinese side before the team can start work. The experts wanted to travel to the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in a market.
For months, however, Chinese authorities have been spreading doubts that the virus even originated in China. State media point to unconfirmed reports that possible Sars-CoV-2 infections should have existed in other countries before the first cases were discovered in Wuhan in early December 2019. Current traces of the virus on frozen foods are also referred to as possible evidence that the virus could have come from abroad. In contrast, researchers suspect bats from southern China as a possible source of origin.