China has announced that a team of 10 World Health Organization (WHO) scientists will visit the country on Thursday, more than a year after the pandemic was first discovered in the city of Wuhan, China.
The WHO team are expected to work with Chinese experts to probe the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, amid accusations that China tried to frustrate the investigation.
This was disclosed in a statement by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on Monday, without providing further details.
While confirming the WHO’s visit to China at a press conference on Monday, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, pointed out that since the outbreak of Covid-19; China, in an open, transparent manner, has maintained close communication and cooperation with the WHO on the origin tracing probe.
Zhao noted that tracing the origin of Covid-19 will likely involve multiple countries with a more and deepened understanding of the virus with WHO conducting similar probes in other countries and regions.
What the Director-General of WHO is saying
In reaction to the announcement by China, the Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, on Monday tweeted,
- “We welcome China’s announcement regarding the international team examining the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19. We look forward to working closely with our counterparts on this critical mission to identify the virus source and its route of introduction to the human population.’’
The long-anticipated mission is of great political significance at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the world, caused almost 2 million deaths, and brought the global economy to a virtual standstill.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that in a rare rebuke, the WHO Director-General, some days ago, expressed his disappointment with China over the last-minute delay of the earlier planned mission, with the denial of entry of the WHO team into their country, especially as 2 members of the team were already on their way.
- The Chinese authority, however, sought to downplay the incident, calling it a misunderstanding.
- Government officials have repeatedly said that tracing the origins of the pandemic was a “scientific matter”, and has even pushed theories it originated outside China.
- Experts are of the opinion that solving the mystery of how it first moved from animals to humans is crucial to preventing another pandemic, but China’s tight control of its scientific research leaves little hope of finding definitive conclusions.