Medical workers move a person who died from Covid-19 at a hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (AP/ File photo)
Medical workers move a person who died from Covid-19 at a hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (AP/ File photo)

Explained: What is WHO team looking for in Wuhan

The Wuhan Institute of Virology maintains an extensive archive of genetic sequences of bat coronaviruses built in the wake of the 2003 SARS pandemic. WHO team members would hope for access to lab logbooks and data, both junior and senior researchers and safety protocols.
AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 14, 2021 05:16 PM IST

The WHO team of international researchers that arrived in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday hopes to find clues to the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The visit has been shrouded in secrecy, with neither China nor the WHO revealing exactly what the team will do or where it will go. The search for the origins is likely to be a years-long effort that could help prevent future pandemics.

Why Wuhan?

The industrial and transportation hub on the Yangtze River is the first place the coronavirus surfaced in the world. It's possible that the virus came to Wuhan undetected from elsewhere, but the city of 11 million is a logical place for the mission to start.

People began falling ill in December 2019, many with links to a sprawling food market that dealt in live animals. The growing number of patients triggered alarms that prompted China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention to send a team to investigate.

The disease would ravage Wuhan before it was brought under control in March. The city was locked down on Jan. 23 with little or no warning. The hardships endured and lives lost became a source of both sorrow and pride for residents once the 76-day lockdown was lifted on April 8.

What is the team's agenda?

First they have to quarantine for 14 days, during which they will work with Chinese counterparts via video conference. Possible visits after quarantine are the Huanan Seafood Market, the site of the December 2019 cluster of cases, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Scientists initially suspected the virus came from wild animals sold in the market. The market has since been largely ruled out but it could provide hints to how the virus spread so widely. Samples from the market may still be available, along with the testimony of those involved in the early response.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology maintains an extensive archive of genetic sequences of bat coronaviruses built in the wake of the 2003 SARS pandemic, which spread from China to many countries. WHO team members would hope for access to lab logbooks and data, both junior and senior researchers and safety protocols for sample collection, storage and analysis.

Why the secrecy?

China has firmly rejected calls for an independent outside investigation. The head of the WHO recently expressed impatience with how long China took to make necessary arrangements for the expert team's visit.

The ruling Communist Party keeps a tight hold on information and is particularly concerned about possible revelations about its handling of the virus that could open it up to international criticism and financial demands.

China stifled independent reports about the outbreak and has published little information on its search for the origins of the virus. An AP investigation found that the government has strictly controlled all scientific research related to the outbreak and forbids researchers from speaking to the press.

State media continue to play up reports that suggest the virus could have originated elsewhere. In announcing the experts’ visit, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said “the tracing of the virus origin will most likely involve multiple countries and localities."

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Trump, who publicly encouraged Sanders to run, wasted no time putting his seal of approval on her bid.(AFP)
Trump, who publicly encouraged Sanders to run, wasted no time putting his seal of approval on her bid.(AFP)

Ex-Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders running for Arkansas governor

AP
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 09:24 AM IST
The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the most high-profile Trump official to seek major office and is doing so less than a week after the tumultuous end of his presidency.
Close
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg urges Donald Trump to ‘chill’ the way he had done in 2019 after Greta became the Time’s 2019 person of year.(via REUTERS)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg urges Donald Trump to ‘chill’ the way he had done in 2019 after Greta became the Time’s 2019 person of year.(via REUTERS)

Greta Thunberg calls out three decades of 'blah, blah, blah' on climate change

ANI, Davos
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:51 AM IST
"The crisis that you continue to ignore. I am here to remind you of the promises that you have made to your children and grandchildren and to tell you that we are not willing to compromise on the minimum safety levels that still remain," she said.
Close
This video grab taken on January 25, 2021, from the website of the World Economic Forum shows China's President Xi Jinping speaking from Pekin as he opens an all-virtual World Economic Forum, which usually takes place in Davos, Switzerland. - Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the World Economic Forum, as his country still appears on track to emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic that continues to wreak havoc elsewhere. In virtual format because of the pandemic, this week's event is headlined: "A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust." (Photo by - / World Economic Forum (WEF) / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS(AFP)
This video grab taken on January 25, 2021, from the website of the World Economic Forum shows China's President Xi Jinping speaking from Pekin as he opens an all-virtual World Economic Forum, which usually takes place in Davos, Switzerland. - Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the World Economic Forum, as his country still appears on track to emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic that continues to wreak havoc elsewhere. In virtual format because of the pandemic, this week's event is headlined: "A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust." (Photo by - / World Economic Forum (WEF) / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS(AFP)

Xi Jinping warns Davos forum against 'new Cold War'

AFP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:48 AM IST
  • Other forum subjects broached on the first day was global taxation of digital giants, a priority for France that until recently has been opposed by the United States.
Close
Incoming US secretary of treasury Janet Yellen (FILE/AP)
Incoming US secretary of treasury Janet Yellen (FILE/AP)

US Senate votes overwhelmingly to confirm Yellen as first female Treasury chief

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:05 AM IST
The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Yellen, with all opposition coming from Republicans.
Close
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's president, speaks to the media (FILE PHOTO).
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's president, speaks to the media (FILE PHOTO).

Mexican president Obrador works from isolation after positive Covid-19 test

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:00 AM IST
Mexico has topped 150,000 deaths due to Covid-19, the fourth-highest level in the world.
Close
Twitter last year started adding labels and warnings about misinformation on the site, including about the Covid-19 pandemic and the US election.(REUTERS)
Twitter last year started adding labels and warnings about misinformation on the site, including about the Covid-19 pandemic and the US election.(REUTERS)

Twitter users fact check misinformation in new trial program

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:33 AM IST
Twitter and other social media companies have been under pressure to combat misinformation on their platforms.
Close
A health worker collects a swab sample from a child for coronavirus testing at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi.(Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)
A health worker collects a swab sample from a child for coronavirus testing at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi.(Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)

LIVE: Mexico's Covid-19 death toll tops 150,000

By hindustantimes.com
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 09:03 AM IST
The US, India and Brazil, in that order, have the highest Covid-19 caseloads globally, followed by Russia and the United Kingdom respectively.
A combination of picture of US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22.(AFP)
A combination of picture of US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22.(AFP)

Biden doesn't believe Trump will be convicted at his impeachment trial: Report

Reuters, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:50 AM IST
Joe Biden said he does not think 17 Republican senators will vote to convict Trump.
Close
A file photo of former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US(Reuters File Photo )
A file photo of former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US(Reuters File Photo )

Donald Trump opens office to ‘carry on’ agenda of his administration

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:47 AM IST
Former President Donald Trump has opened an office that will “advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda” of his administration, according to a statement released Monday night.
Close
FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT./File Photo(via REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT./File Photo(via REUTERS)

US detects first case of Brazil coronavirus variant

AFP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:43 AM IST
President Joe Biden on Monday re-imposed a travel ban on most non-US citizens who have been in Britain, Brazil, Ireland and much of Europe.
Close
A person wears a sticker after they were given the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, at a one-day vaccination clinic set up in an Amazon.com facility in Seattle and administered Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)(AP)
A person wears a sticker after they were given the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, at a one-day vaccination clinic set up in an Amazon.com facility in Seattle and administered Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)(AP)

US Covid-19 numbers drop, but race against new strains heats up

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:40 AM IST
The US is recording just under 3,100 deaths a day on average, down from more than 3,350 less than two weeks ago.
Close
Speaking at the same press briefing, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO expects the world's coronavirus case total to surge past 100 million this week.(REUTERS)
Speaking at the same press briefing, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO expects the world's coronavirus case total to surge past 100 million this week.(REUTERS)

Countries struggling with Covid-19 vaccine supply, distribution, says WHO expert

ANI, Geneva
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:21 AM IST
The global number of Covid-19 cases reached 98,794,942, with the cumulative death toll rising to 2,124,193, according to the WHO data.
Close
Boris Johnson was due to be in New Delhi as the chief guest at the annual parade to mark the India’s 72nd Republic Day(AP)
Boris Johnson was due to be in New Delhi as the chief guest at the annual parade to mark the India’s 72nd Republic Day(AP)

Boris Johnson greets India on R-Day, says working together to eliminate Covid

PTI, London
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:12 AM IST
In his video message to celebrate the birth of an “extraordinary Constitution” that established India “as the biggest sovereign democracy in the world”, the UK PM reiterated his plan to visit India in the coming months.
Close
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Alamo, Texas. During the Trump administration's final weeks, the Department of Homeland Security quietly signed agreements with at least four states that threaten to temporarily derail President Joe Biden's efforts to undo his predecessor's immigration policies. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)(AP)
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Alamo, Texas. During the Trump administration's final weeks, the Department of Homeland Security quietly signed agreements with at least four states that threaten to temporarily derail President Joe Biden's efforts to undo his predecessor's immigration policies. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)(AP)

Election lawsuit citing ‘Lord of the Rings’ is tweaked after ‘a Bit of Rest’

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:08 AM IST
The suit, filed Jan. 18 in federal court in Waco, Texas, names House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, among others.
Close
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo(REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo(REUTERS)

Donald Trump impeachment goes to Senate, testing his sway over GOP

AP, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:00 AM IST
Arguments in the Senate trial will begin the week of Feb. 8, and the case against Trump, the first former president to face impeachment trial, will test a political party still sorting itself out for the post-Trump era.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP