WHO experts to arrive in China for COVID-19 origin tracing probe
By Xu Keyue Published: Jan 11, 2021 01:04 PM
As agreed by the two sides, the World Health Organization (WHO) will send experts to China on Thursday and work with Chinese experts to investigate the origin of COVID-19, said China's National Health Commission (NHC).
The details of the group's itinerary have not been publicized. But Chinese health officials said on Saturday that they would go together with the WHO team to Wuhan to launch an investigation of the virus' origin.
This arrangement indicates that China has always been open, supportive and positive toward the WHO's investigations, Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Monday.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the WHO's visit to China at a press conference on Monday afternoon. Zhao noted since the COVID-19 outbreak, China, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, has maintained close communication and cooperation with the WHO on the origin tracing probe.
Zhao said that the tracing of the coronavirus' origin is likely to involve multiple countries with more and deepened understanding of the virus and more cases detected in the very early stage of the outbreak, and the WHO will need to conduct similar investigations in other countries and regions.
Zhao noted that the tracing probe is based on science, which should be carried out by global scientists.
China is ready to continue its close cooperation with the WHO and international medical experts in this regard and contribute to the global tracing probe, Zhao said.
Zhao didn't directly address the detailed schedule of the itinerary.
"We welcome China's announcement regarding the international team examining the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19. We look forward to working closely with our counterparts on this critical mission to identify the virus source and its route of introduction to the human population," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted on Monday.
Wang said that the WHO experts are likely to visit other countries where the coronavirus reportedly emerged earlier than China.
Wang said the investigation into the origin is very important for people to find the means, conditions and characteristics of the virus transmission, and it will help control the pandemic and prevent similar viruses from infecting human beings in the future.
The investigation will not be completed overnight, and it requires the cooperation of all countries, Wang noted, and China, the first country to identify the virus, takes the responsibility in assisting the WHO to carry out investigations.
Zeng Yixin, a deputy head of the NHC, said at a Saturday conference that China has been supportive of the WHO's investigation into the origin of the coronavirus and has held four video conferences on details of the investigation, and it reached an agreement with the agency.
China invited WHO experts twice, in February and again in July last year, despite its heavy domestic epidemic prevention and control work. Also, Chinese experts had frequent communications with the WHO and other international experts through video conferences and seminars, and frankly explained China's efforts in tracing the virus' origin, according to Zhao.
China and the WHO have jointly developed the Chinese part of the global cooperation plan on tracing the virus' origin, Zhao said, noting that the WHO and international experts fully affirmed China's achievement in anti-epidemic work and the tracing probe.
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