China Blocks Entry to WHO Team Investigating the Origins of COVID-19


China has denied the entry of a team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) headed to Wuhan to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and how it made a species jump to humans.

During a press briefing on Jan. 5, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he was “very disappointed” that “Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” blocking them from entering the country.

According to WHO’s Emergencies Program Head Dr. Michael Ryan, Chinese authorities had not yet approved the visas of the two members of the team who had begun their long-distance travel.

Ryan described the delay as “frustrating” and said that the team had been working closely with Chinese officials in planning the trip, adding that they were “operating on the understanding the team will begin deployment” on Jan. 5.

“We trust that in good faith, we can solve these issues in the coming hours and recommence the deployment of the team as urgently as possible,” Ryan further said.

Tedros said that he has been in contact with senior Chinese officials to clarify “that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”

“I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedures for the earliest possible deployment. We are eager to get the mission under way as soon as possible,” Tedros further said.

WHO has been in talks with Chinese officials since July in attempting to send in a team of experts to study the origins of COVID-19 and how it became transmissible to humans. China had previously said it would grant the team entry.

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