China: WHO experts coming Thursday for virus origins probe

China: WHO experts coming Thursday for virus origins probe”

"After negotiation between the two parties, the Chinese government agreed that the World Health Organization's worldwide team of experts will come to China on January 14 to communicate with Chinese scientists and medical experts about scientific cooperation on the origins of the new coronavirus", Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

The team was initially aiming to enter China in early January for the investigation but their arrival was delayed due to a lack of authorisation from Beijing for their entry.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China approved the visit following discussions with the WHO.

The WHO Director General welcomed the announcement, saying on Twitter, "We look forward to working closely with our [Chinese] counterparts on this critical mission to identify the virus source and its route of introduction to the human population".

Ten worldwide experts will visit China from Thursday to probe the origins of the new coronavirus, more than a year after the pandemic began and amid accusations that Beijing has tried to thwart the investigation. The WHO has been criticised, particularly by the United States, for its response to the pandemic and was described by U.S. President Donald Trump as being "China-centric" and "a puppet of China".

"The origin tracing may involve more countries".

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The first case of the then-unnamed coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, in China's western Hubei province, on the first day of 2020.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Monday China had "maintained close communication and cooperation with World Health Organization on global origin-tracing in an open, transparent and responsible manner".

"Let this mission and let other missions be about the science, not about the politics", Ryan said.

Experts say solving the mystery of how it first jumped from animals to humans is crucial to preventing another pandemic, but China's tight control of its scientific research leaves little hope of finding definitive conclusions.

China has been defensive about its handling of the virus and the source of the outbreak and insists the World Health Organization team should expand its investigation to other countries.

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