People wearing protective masks walk at a street market almost a year after the start of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.(REUTERS)
People wearing protective masks walk at a street market almost a year after the start of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.(REUTERS)

WHO’s team to go to China in January for Covid-19 origin probe

The coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, 2019, before spreading across China, and triggering a global pandemic.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai
UPDATED ON DEC 16, 2020 05:36 PM IST

The international team of World Health Organisation seeking investigation into the origin of Covid-19 virus will go to China in January, the global health body announced on Wednesday.

“I can confirm that this will take place in January,” WHO spokesman Hedinn Halldorsson told AFP when asked about reports that the expert team, which includes epidemiologists and animal health specialists, would finally go to China next month, reported news agency AFP.

The global call to investigate the origin of the virus, suspected to be in China’s Wuhan, has been echoed by scientists and medical experts as the scourage by coronavirus disease has claimed millions of lives and upended economies across the world.

The coronavirus first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, 2019, before spreading across China, and triggering a global pandemic.

Also read | ‘Pure propaganda’: German scientist rebuts Chinese media on Covid origin

China has rejected the claims for almost a year now on the reports of virus originating from its central city. Recently, a top German biochemist quoted by Chinese state media as saying that the coronavirus did not originate in Wuhan has called it “pure propaganda” and said there is no evidence to suggest that the virus did not come from the central Chinese city.

China has denied that it deliberately hid information about the spreading virus in January or earlier.

A year into the Coronavirus pandemic, China has effectively controlled the spread of Covid-19 within its borders, putting in place efficient lockdown and contract tracing measures and conducting mass testing for the virus for every small outbreak.

At the same time, Beijing, in the face of global criticism, has been trying to change the virus-origin theory and shift the blame outside. Several theories are in circulation – the origin could be the Indian subcontinent including India and Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia, Italy, the US and the US military, or imported frozen packaged food.

Also read | Coronavirus Outbreak: WHO advance team concludes China visit to probe Covid-19 origin

In August this year, the agency’s chief and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said the “international team” will deploy to Wuhan, the city where the pandemic is believed to have erupted late last year. Tedros said “terms of reference” have been drawn up by the WHO and China, but he did not specify.

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