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WHO investigators in China visit the first hospital for Covid-19 patients

On the second day of their field investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) went, Saturday, January 30, to Wuhan in the first hospital to have received patients with Covid-19. The first country hit by the epidemic, China is almost silent on this politically sensitive visit to Beijing, accused of having been slow to react to the first cases of Covid. The precise schedule of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) thus remains opaque: their messages on social networks as well as those of the WHO constitute the rare sources of information.

Released from fourteen days of quarantine on Thursday, investigators went in the morning, under good escort and away from the press, to Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan, Agence France-Presse (AFP) found. This establishment is the first to have welcomed patients suffering from what was then a mysterious virus, in the city where the Covid-19 pandemic started at the end of 2019.

Read also Covid-19: WHO experts will be able to access the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which notably handled coronaviruses

The visit was a “Important opportunity to speak directly with the doctors who were in the field at this critical moment in the fight against Covid! “, tweeted Peter Daszak, one of the members of the delegation. A strong doubt remains however on the interest of the elements that the investigators will be able to gather, more than a year after the start of the pandemic and in front of the Chinese authorities known for their opacity on the controversial subjects.

“Very, very busy agenda”

Tainted by controversial management during the first weeks of the epidemic, the communist power thus launched a huge exhibition in Wuhan to restore its image and celebrate the claimed victory of China against the coronavirus. Part of the WHO delegation visited the site in the afternoon. Huge portraits of President Xi Jinping dominate the ensemble, while smaller panels pay tribute to caregivers who have succumbed to the virus, amid full-bodied models and slogans commemorating the Chinese Communist Party.

Read also Covid-19 around the world: contaminations in Wuhan ten times higher than the official toll

The World Health Organization on Friday tried to temper expectations around this mission. “I would like to warn everyone: success in an investigation into animal-to-human transmission is not necessarily measured by absolutely finding a source during the first mission”Michael Ryan, director of emergency operations at WHO, told reporters.

Despite a “Very, very busy schedule” from the team of experts in Wuhan, Ryan remained vague on their agenda. However, he referred to visits, including to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and a market in the city, where exotic animals were sold alive and where the virus was able to be transmitted to humans. The Trump administration had raised the hypothesis that the Covid-19 virus could have escaped from the institute of virology by contaminating researchers.

Read also China: the impossible transparency on Wuhan

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The World with AFP

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