The team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of investigating the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will arrive in China next Thursday, January 14, after both parties overcame the problems of access to the country of this mission by which they collided last week.
Through a brief statement published on its website, the National Health Commission of China indicates that the WHO technicians will arrive in the Asian country on the 14th, and that they will “cooperate” with local scientists in these investigations.
The Commission does not specify the places to which the members of this “priority” mission for WHO will travel, made up of scientists from various international organizations from the United States, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, and Vietnam. , Germany and Qatar.
According to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, “The mission is expected to last six weeks, including quarantine” (to which the members of the research team will be submitted).
The objective is to find the possible animal origin of SARS-CoV-2 and its transmission channels to humans.
COMING FROM OTHER COUNTRIES?
Although the initial theory is that it spread through a fresh produce and animal market in Wuhan, the official Chinese press has promoted an alternative narrative in recent months that assures that this outbreak could be due to frozen food from other countries.
From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spokesman Zhao Lijian said today during the daily press conference that “tracking the origin of the coronavirus is likely to involve several countries with greater knowledge of the virus. The WHO will need to carry out similar investigations in other countries and regions “.
In that regard, a respiratory disease expert quoted by the combative nationalist state daily Global Times said the WHO team “I will probably visit other countries where the coronavirus emerged before China,” an idea that the official Chinese press is trying to spread.
The source assures that China was “the first country to detect it” and that therefore Beijing “is in charge of helping the WHO to carry out the investigations.”
Controversy over the arrival
The arrival of the WHO team in China caused controversy last week after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed to be “very disappointed” by the obstacles Beijing was putting on the mission, although Chinese authorities denied. be putting impediments.
Several members of the team had started their trips to China in the first days of the year, but Tedros regretted that Beijing had not “finalized the necessary permits” for access to the Asian country, which registered the first global outbreak of covid in the central-eastern city of Wuhan during the last days of December 2019.
Scientists who were unable to access China were forced to return to their home countries until the situation was resolved.
However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry described the situation as a “misunderstanding” by assuring last week that “there has never been any problem in cooperation” with the WHO and that the organization knew “perfectly” that it was not just “a problem. visa “, to which he added that both parties were still preparing the visit and negotiating its dates.
This unforeseen event added new doubts to the existing ones about the transparency of the Chinese authorities regarding the virus, as well as on the delay of the mission, since it has been more than a year since its emergence in Wuhan.
Last Saturday, the deputy director of the National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin, showed his support for the mission, although he pointed out that the times remained to be coordinated.
Although WHO experts already visited China for this purpose in February and July last year – without revealing too many details -, The organization of this mission has been delayed for months and has been surrounded by secrecy, both on the part of that body and the Chinese authorities.