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The WHO team of experts in Wuhan to investigate the origin of the virus

Beijing, Jan 14 (EFE) .- The long-awaited team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of investigating the origins of the coronavirus landed today, after months of negotiations, in the central-eastern Chinese city of Wuhan, where at the end of 2019 the first infections of the covid began to register. Images broadcast by the state network CGTN today showed the arrival of the team members at the city’s airport from Singapore and their reception by personnel wearing white protective suits. However, the team must follow the Asian country’s covid prevention protocol and quarantine for 14 days before beginning its investigations on the ground, the WHO confirmed today through its profile on the social network Twitter. The source added that the new arrivals will begin their work “immediately” from their confinement. The mission, a “priority” for WHO, is made up of scientists from various international organizations from the USA, Japan, Russia, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Vietnam, Germany and Qatar. However, the WHO added today that two scientists are still in Singapore awaiting the results of new antibody tests because they have tested positive in this type of test. The arrival of the team caused controversy after the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he was “very disappointed” by the obstacles that Beijing was putting on the mission after months of negotiations, although the Chinese authorities denied they were putting any impediments. The Ethiopian had continually praised Beijing for its collaboration in the pandemic throughout 2020, something that earned him harsh criticism in the West, especially from the United States, whose government has repeatedly accused China of being guilty of the global spread of the virus. virus. The objective of the mission is to find its origin and its transmission channels: despite months of research, it is only known that it is a zoonotic virus, that is, transmitted from animals to man, and that it began to spread through a market from Wuhan. There are suspicions that bats native to southern China or the pangolin could have participated in its transmission, which could have passed through more than one species before reaching humans. According to a Terms of Reference (TOR) report for China released by the WHO on July 31, it is unclear whether the Wuhan market “was the source of the infection, whether it acted as an amplifier for human-to-human transmission, or was a combination of those factors. ” THE OFFICIAL CHINESE PRESS FEEDS THE DOUBTS Meanwhile, the official Chinese press in recent months has put forward an alternative narrative according to which the initial outbreak of the pandemic could have been related to imports of frozen food or had arisen earlier in other countries. In an opinion article, the state agency Xinhua said today that “there is more evidence” that the covid would have circulated outside of China earlier than was believed “and points to alleged cases registered throughout 2019 in countries such as Brazil, Italy, Spain and France. “Finding the origin of the virus is a scientific puzzle. That Wuhan was the first city to detect it does not mean that its origin is there, “says the media. It also indicates that claiming without evidence that the outbreak began in a single country is” dangerous and counterproductive, “and that the investigation should be carried out. simultaneously in other parts of the world “to collect as much information as possible.” Although WHO experts already visited China in February and July last year – without revealing too many details – the organization of this mission has been delayed for months. and has been shrouded in secrecy, both from that body and the Chinese authorities. Xinhua on Monday rushed to defend the country’s “goodwill” regarding the trip in that “China supports fact-based scientific investigation” and criticized “Western politicians, particularly Americans, who have not stopped attacking China with unfounded rumors” about the origin of the coronavirus “under the presumption of that China is to blame. ” FIRST DEATH SINCE MAY The arrival of the group of experts occurs on the same day that the Chinese health authorities reported a new death from covid, the first since the one announced on May 17. With this new death, the official number of deaths from covid in mainland China stands at 4,635. According to the authorities, the death occurred in the northeastern province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, and which is the scene of an outbreak that has led to the closure of three cities, including the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, with 11 million inhabitants. Likewise, China detected 138 new cases of the coronavirus today, the highest number of new infections since the beginning of March. Of these, 124 were produced by local contagion, all in the northeast of the country: in Hebei there were 81, while Heilongjiang, on the border with Russia and also the focus of another outbreak, registered the remaining 43, almost triple than in the previous day. Thus, the number of active infected in mainland China stood at 885, 24 of them serious. In order to cope with the outbreaks and avoid further infections, the country decided to cancel the lunar New Year celebrations in several provinces, the most important in the Asian country, and which this year will be celebrated from February 12. (c) EFE Agency

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