Covid: WHO team probing origin of virus arrives in China

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 14, 2021

A bus carrying members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic leaves the airport following their arrival at a cordoned-off section in the global arrivals area at the airport in Wuhan on January 14, 2021.

Two members of the World Health Organization mission were barred by Chinese officials from boarding a flight to Wuhan after testing positive for antibodies during a final layover in Singapore, where they remain to be retested.

The results of nucleic acid tests were negative but showed two of the members had coronavirus antibodies, the Geneva-based agency said in a tweet. An antibody test could indicate that a person is in the acute phase of infection when testing positive for the IgM antibody, which is the first wave of antibodies generated to fight infection.

The rest of the team arrived in Wuhan from Singapore late on Thursday morning on a budget airline and they were expected to head into two weeks of quarantine.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian defended the denial of permission to the two scientists saying that "relevant epidemic and control requirements and regulations will be strictly enforced".

"I don't think we will have clear answers after this initial mission, but we will be on the way", he said.

Authorities last week launched a mass testing drive and closed transport links, schools and shops in Hebei's capital city Shijiazhuang - the epicentre of the latest outbreak.

Team members did not speak to reporters, although some waved and took pictures of the media from the bus as it departed.

The novel coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city more than a year ago, and has since spread to all corners of the globe, leaving more than 92 million people infected and more than 1.9 million dead, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

The team would mainly stay in Wuhan, he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday during a stopover in Singapore.

The team of researchers plan to visit the market to investigate those possibilities, the Journal reported.

Last week, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was "very disappointed" that China had still not authorised the team's entry for the long-awaited mission, but on Monday, he welcomed its announcement of their planned arrival.

"We will also support and offer convenience to World Health Organization experts' travel to China", he told a media briefing replying to a question about the denial of permission to the two scientists and referred the media to competent authorities for details. But they later began to say they can not rule out the possibility that it was brought in from overseas because the virus has been detected in some imported foods.

Beijing has argued that although Wuhan is where the first cluster of cases was detected, it is not necessarily where the virus originated.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE