Tuesday, January 05, 2021
Search for coronavirus origin
China stops WHO detectives at the last minute
The novel corona virus will first appear in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan at the end of 2019. How exactly the pathogen spread from animals to humans is still unclear today. WHO experts want to clarify this question on a detective mission. Beijing blocked their entry at the last minute.
At the last minute, China prevented the entry of experts who are supposed to investigate the origins of the coronavirus on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO). “I am very disappointed with this news,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticized China in an unusually clear manner in Geneva. Two experts had already started the trip on Tuesday, two more had to stop their departure at the last minute.
“It’s very frustrating,” added WHO Director of Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan. Contrary to what was agreed, Beijing announced at short notice that the necessary entry documents were not yet available, he said. One of those who had already left has returned home, the other WHO expert is waiting in a third country for his entry permit.
Ryan stressed that Tedros had reminded the Chinese authorities of the urgency of the mission. The authorities had given assurances that the papers would now be made available quickly.
China spreads doubts
The WHO has been negotiating this expert mission with China for many months. The conversations were slow. Every single expert has to be approved by the Chinese side before the team can start work. The epidemiologists and experts on animal diseases want to travel to the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan to look for the origin of the coronavirus.
In the city, the virus was first detected in the vicinity of a market at the end of 2019 and from there it had spread throughout the world. How the pathogen spread from animals – probably bats – to humans is still unclear.
Recently, however, the Chinese authorities had repeatedly cast doubts that the virus even came from China. State media referred to unconfirmed reports that there were possible Sars-CoV-2 infections in other countries before the first cases were discovered in Wuhan in early December 2019. Several countries accuse the Chinese authorities of trying to cover up the source of the pandemic. Beijing initially refused to conduct an independent international investigation into the origins of the virus.