World Health Organisation’s global team of scientists investigating the origin of coronavirus were turned away in China for not having visa clearance. WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed disappointment at the delay on Tuesday, 5 January, in a press conference.
“I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members have already started their journeys, and others were not able to travel at the last minute. But I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials. And I have once again made made it clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team,” said the WHO director, according to The Guardian.
Two members from the team arrived in China but were denied entry by officials who claimed lack of visa clearance issues. One member has turned back, and the other member is waiting in a third transition country till the visa is cleared, reported BBC.
‘Arrangements Still Underway’ Says China
Asking to ‘not read too much into it’, in a press briefing on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the arrangements of dates and details of the visit are still being worked out with WHO and there is hope for a decision regarding arrangements that will be taken soon, reported BBC.
"Chinese authorities are in close co-operation with WHO but there has been some minor outbreaks in multiple places around the world and many countries and regions are busy in their work preventing the virus and we are also working on this," Chunying said to BBC.
Independent Probe into Origin of Virus
In May 2020, over 100 nations asked for an independent probe into how the virus transmitted to humans, for which WHO agreed to hold an inquiry. The meeting was agreed upon by China after months of negotiations.
The ten-member expert team was formed and it began coordinating this visit with Chinese officials since July 2020 to probe into the earliest cases of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan in December 2019, reported CNN.
(With inputs from The Guardian, BBC and CNN)