The World Health Organisation investigating team of 10 members arrived on Thursday in Wuhan, China where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected. The researchers’ team will conduct a probe into the origin of the virus through uncertainty whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries.
After months of diplomatic bickering, President Xi Jinping’s government has allowed a 10-member team in Wuhan, which has caused the head of WHO to publicly complain about the delay to which he said, “very disappointed”.
Scientists speculate the covid virus that has taken millions of lives since late 2019 was transmitted to humans from bats or other animals, most likely in China’s southwest. But China’s ruling Communist Party, tingled by criticism that it allowed the infection to spread, says that the virus came from abroad, maybe on imported seafood, but scientists reject that.
The WHO research members include viruses and other experts from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.
A government spokesman said this week they will “exchange views” with Chinese scientists but did not indicate whether they would be allowed to gather evidence.
The member will be quarantined for two weeks as well as a throat swab test and an antibody test for COVID-19, according to a post on CGTN’s official Weibo account.
While the team quarantines, they will begin the work with Chinese experts via video conference.
China discarded demands for an international investigation after the Trump administration blamed Beijing for spreading the virus, which crushed the global economy into its deepest depreciation since the 1930s.
After Australia called in April for an independent inquiry, Beijing countered by blocking imports of Australian beef, wine and other goods.
One possibility is that a wildlife poacher might have passed the virus to traders who carried it to Wuhan, one of the WHO team members, zoologist Peter Daszak of the U.S. group EcoHealth Alliance, told the Associated Press in November.
It will not be possible to confirm the virus’s origins in a single visit by the scientists; closing down an outbreak’s animal reservoir is typically an exhaustive task that takes years of research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies. “The government should be very transparent and collaborative,” said Shin-Ru Shih, director at the Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections at Taiwan’s Chang Gung University.
The Chinese government has tried to create ambiguity about the origin of the covid-19 virus citing that the outbreak might have started with imports of tainted seafood, which has little evidence. However, this concept has been declined by international scientists and agencies.