China has confirmed on Saturday, 9 January, that it will allow the entry of a World Health Organisation (WHO) team of experts to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and the team will arrive at Wuhan on 14 January, reported Reuters.
“Since the WHO is in the lead in fighting the pandemic, it’s very important that it also has a leading role in trying to look at the roots of it, so we can be better prepared for the next one,” said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, as quoted by Reuters.
Two members from the WHO team arrived in China last week but were denied entry by officials who claimed lack of visa clearance issues. One member turned back, and the other member waited in a third transition country till the visa was cleared, reported BBC.
Chinese foreign ministry claimed that the delay for clearance happened over a ‘misunderstanding’ and authorities refused to confirm details of the visit. WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed disappointment at the delay on Tuesday, 5 January, in a press conference.
The global team of scientists was supposed to arrive in early January to study how the virus transmitted to humans. 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.
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.
(With inputs from Reuters, BBC and CNN)