China Denies WHO Team Access to Study Covid Origin

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After months of planning and negotiating for permission to send out a team to study the origins of Covid-19 and early cases, the United Nations sent a World Health Organization (WHO) team but was blocked by Chinese officials. The team was already on its way when they realized there was an issue with their visas and were unable to go through with the original planned arrival date. The WHO director Tedros Adhanom, executive director of WHO health emergencies Dr. Michael Ryan, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying, and the founding director and chair of the Global Health Centre in Geneva Ilona Kickbusch have all spoken on the matter.

According to The Guardian, Tedros discussed in a news conference in Geneva, “I am very disappointed with this news, I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”

The WHO team consisted of two scientists, one of which has already returned to his home while the other remains in Singapore awaiting further instruction.

The WHO committee has stayed in contact with Chinese officials since July and has been trying for months to send in teams from different countries. The original team’s intent was to investigate early Coronavirus cases and oppose the claim that it originated from a Chinese lab. According to CNN, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, assures the public that China has “held an open, transparent, and responsible attitude” in studying COVID-19 and continued on to explain how they are working on allowing the team to enter China.

According to Fox News, Hua stated, “In order to ensure that the international expert group that comes to China can work smoothly, it is needed to fulfill the necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements. The two sides are still negotiating about this.”

Both Hua and Tedros have expressed their desire to make this work and Tedros has stressed the priority of the team to the WHO committee. Some experts, however, believe that this delay could prove to be detrimental for the investigation.

According to CNN, the founding director and chair of the Global Health Centre in Geneva, Ilona Kickbusch, added: “I think it will be incredibly difficult to be able to find the origin of the virus, because so much time has passed.”

Despite these setbacks, the WHO team has now arrived a week late in Wuhan, China to begin their study on COVID cases and attempt to determine its origin. Chinese officials are still restricting the release of information and the team has not yet released any reports of their findings.