Coronavirus origin: China blocks WHO team from entering Wuhan
Beijing, Jan 06: China blocked the entry of two scientists of the World Health Organization (WHO) left their home countries for Wuhan to trace the origin of the coronavirus.
The head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday that he is "disappointed" Chinese officials haven''t finalised the permissions to allow a team of experts into China to examine the origins of COVID-19.
Ghebreyesus said that two scientists on the United Nations team had already left their home countries for Wuhan when they were told that Chinese officials had not approved the necessary permissions to enter the country.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a rare critique of Beijing, said members of the international scientific team began departing from their home countries over the last 24 hours as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government.
"Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team''s arrival in China," Tedros said during a news conference in Geneva.
"I''m very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials," he said.
Tedros said he "made it clear" that the mission was a priority for the U.N. health agency, and that he was "assured that China is speeding up the internal procedures for the earliest possible deployment." "We are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible," he said.
The experts drawn from around the world are expected to visit the city of Wuhan, which is suspected as the place that the coronavirus first emerged over a year ago.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO''s emergencies chief, said the deployment had been expected to start Tuesday but that the needed approvals had not yet been granted, including for visa clearances.
The Chinese government has been strictly controlling all research at home into the origins of the virus, an AP investigation found, and state-owned media have played up reports that suggest the virus could have originated elsewhere. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said recently that "more and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world."
Earlier it was reported that the 10-member team will travel to Wuhan in January 2021 to probe the origins of Covid-19, news agency PTI reported.
In May, the World Health Assembly (WHA), the governing body of the 194-member states of the WHO, approved a resolution to set up an independent inquiry to conduct an "impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response as well as that of WHO.
It also asked the WHO to investigate the "source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population".
China, which has backed the inquiry with a rider that it should commence after the coronavirus was brought under control, said it is getting ready to receive the WHO experts'' team.