Ten scientists from the World Health Organization will visit China from Thursday to investigate the source of Covid-19, authorities said Monday, more than a year after the pandemic started and Beijing has sought to thwart the investigation amid allegations.
At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the world, causing almost two million deaths, the long-awaited mission is of great political significance.
The WHO team “will conduct joint research collaboration with Chinese scientists on the origins of Covid-19,” the National Health Commission said in a statement that offered no further information.
Earlier this month, a last-minute pause in the mission won China a rare rebuke from the head of the WHO.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” that China had not approved the entry of the team, especially because two members were already on the way.
However, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying calling it a “misunderstanding,” Beijing tried to downplay the tension.
The WHO specialists will have to quarantine on arrival for two weeks, but Wuhan, the city where the deadly virus was first discovered in late 2019, is expected to visit later.