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The WHO team dispatched to China was finally able to begin its field investigation on Friday after two weeks of quarantine. Investigators met Chinese scientists and were to visit Wuhan laboratories and hospitals.
WHO investigators were finally able to start their fieldwork on Friday, January 29 in Wuhan, after two weeks of quarantine. The team began meeting with Chinese scientists and were due to visit laboratories and hospitals in the city, the suspected birthplace of the coronavirus in central China.
This fieldwork began after the end on Thursday of the fourteen-day period during which international scientists had to isolate themselves in a hotel as a health precaution upon their arrival in Wuhan, the city where a first case of coronavirus had been. detected at the end of 2019.
While they are expected to spend another two weeks in China, the experts planned to visit a market in the city on Friday considered to be the first source of contamination, the WHO said.
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They were then to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology – equipped with high-security P3 and P4 laboratories – which handled coronaviruses in particular. According to one theory, rejected by China, the pandemic was caused by a breach in this government laboratory.
From the start of the pandemic, the establishment was the subject of hypotheses, taken up by the administration of former US President Donald Trump, according to which the virus could have escaped before contaminating the planet. A theory which is not based for the moment on anything tangible.
“No guarantee of getting answers”
“First face to face meeting with our colleagues. Correction: mask to mask, due to medical restrictions. We are discussing our program of visits,” Marion Koopmans, a virologist from a Dutch institute, said on Twitter on Friday.
First face to face meeting with our colleagues. Correction: facemask to facemask given the medical restrictions. Discussing our visiting program. China teamleader prof Wannian joking about some technical glitches. Nice to see our colleagues after lengthy zoom meetings.
– Marion Koopmans (@MarionKoopmans) January 29, 2021
One of the WHO leaders had sought earlier this month to tone down expectations for the investigation. “There is no guarantee of getting answers,” Mike Ryan told reporters, adding that it was “difficult” to fully establish the origin of a pandemic.
The WHO mission takes place in a delicate context, between delay in the authorizations granted by Beijing for the arrival of experts, questioning of their ability to have unrestricted access and criticism of the United States, which accused China of covering up the initial scale of the health crisis.
The question of the origin of the pandemic has been highly politicized. China has repeatedly put forward the theory that the virus existed abroad before it was imported and then discovered in Wuhan.
With AFP and Reuters