Home / World / WHO scientists arrive in Wuhan to examine the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.

WHO scientists arrive in Wuhan to examine the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.



The WHO team has begun investigating the origin of the coronavirus in China, despite concerns that the Beijing government might try to block the embarrassing discovery.

Thirteen scientists arrived in Wuhan, China, on Thursday after months of discussions with President Xi Jinping’s government.

The team includes virologists and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.

Workers in protective robes ordered members of the WHO team to arrive at an airport in the central Chinese city of Hubei province on Thursday, January 14, 2021.A team of researchers around the world arrived in China on Thursday. Thursday, the coronavirus outbreak.  It was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty whether Beijing might try to prevent the shameful discovery. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan)

Workers in protective clothing ordered members of the WHO team to arrive at an airport in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on Thursday, January 14, 2021. Thursday there was a coronavirus outbreak. It was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty whether Beijing might try to prevent the embarrassing discovery. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan)

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The team will observe the quarantine for two weeks – per protocol – but team members will begin working through video conferencing with Chinese experts. Two members from the starting team had to be in Singapore after receiving positive results for COVID-19, but they will follow up when they test negative.

Also possible for researchers is the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the city where the first outbreak occurred.In late 2019, one of China’s leading virus research laboratories created a genetic repository of the bat’s coronavirus. After the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Disease in 2003 (SARS).

The investigation began months after discussion and bureaucratic hurdles when China announced that some of its team members had not received valid visas.

Passengers arriving on flights from Singapore will be handled by staff in protective clothing and directed through a covered walkway to a separate exit from the airport terminal in Wuhan, central province. China's Hubei on Thursday, January 14, 2021, Chinese state media reported that a WHO team arrived in Wuhan Thursday to research the origin of the coronavirus. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan).

Passengers arriving on flights from Singapore will be handled by staff in protective clothing and directed through a covered walkway to a separate exit from the airport terminal in Wuhan, central province. China’s Hubei on Thursday, January 14, 2021, Chinese state media reported that a WHO team arrived in Wuhan Thursday to research the origin of the coronavirus. (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan).

“The government should be very transparent and cooperative,” said Shin-Ru Shih, director of Taiwan’s Chang Gung University’s Emerging Virus Infection Research Center.

Beijing has long resisted calls for an international investigation, rather than pushing back the theory that the virus had entered China from abroad.

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Members of the WHO team arrived at the airport in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province on Thursday, January 14, 2021. A team of researchers around the world arrived in China on Thursday, where the outbreak was detected. Of the corona virus was the first to be politically sensitive  A STEM investigation amid uncertainty whether Beijing might try to prevent the embarrassing discovery (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan).

Members of the World Health Organization team arrived at the airport in the central Chinese city of Hubei province on Thursday, January 14, 2021. A team of researchers around the world arrived in China on Thursday, where the spread was detected. The coronavirus outbreak was the first to be politically sensitive. A STEM investigation amid uncertainty whether Beijing might try to prevent the infamous discovery (AP Photo / Ng Han Guan)

When Australia called for an independent investigation into the origin of the virus, Beijing responded with a blockade on Australian imports.

“WHO will have to conduct similar investigations elsewhere,” National Health Commission official Mi Feng said Wednesday.

Efforts to closely protect the information surrounding the virus and its origins may lead to delayed warnings about the spread and difficulties in establishing early testing capabilities.

The “scientific review” of the records and institutional safety measures will be “Daily activities,” said epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse at the University of Edinburgh. He said it depends on how much the Chinese authorities are willing to share information.

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“There is an essential element of trust here,” said Woolhouse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




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