Relatives of virus victim say to meet WHO experts in Wuhan

WUHAN, China (AP) – A relative of a coronovirus victim in China is seeking to meet a World Health Organization expert team, saying it should talk to affected families who allege they were muffled by the Chinese government Are being done

China approved the visit after months of negotiations by researchers under the aegis of the United Nations Agency. It has not indicated whether they will be allowed to gather evidence or talk to the families, saying only that the team can exchange ideas with Chinese scientists.

“I hope the WHO experts don’t become a tool for spreading lies,” is Zhang, whose father died on February 1, 2020, in the Chinese city of Wuhan after traveling and becoming infected with COVID-19. “We are constantly searching for the truth. It was a criminal act, and I do not want the WHO to come to China to cover these crimes. ”

China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The WHO team, which arrived in Wuhan on 14 January to investigate the origins of the virus, is expected to begin field work later this week after 14 weeks of quarantine.

Wuhan native Zhang, who lives in the southern city of Shenzhen, has mobilized relatives of coronovirus victims in China to demand accountability from authorities.

Many people are angry that the state has dropped the virus At the beginning of the outbreak, And attempted to file a lawsuit against the Wuhan government.

Relatives have faced heavy pressure not to speak to authorities. Authorities repeatedly dismissed lawsuits, questioned Zhang and others and threatened fire relatives of those who spoke to foreign media, according to interviews with Zhang and other relatives.

Zhang said that chat groups of relatives were shut down shortly after the WHO team arrived in Wuhan, and accused the city’s government of trying to silence them.

Zhang said, “Don’t pretend that we don’t exist, we don’t want accountability.” “You have dispensed all our platforms, but we still want to tell everyone through the media that we have not given up.”

The WHO says that a trip to China is a scientific mission to investigate the origin of the virus, Is not an attempt to assign blame, and requires “in-depth interviews and reviews” of initial cases. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China initially rejected calls for an international investigation after the Trump administration blamed Beijing for the virus, but succumbed to global pressure in May to investigate the origin.

On Monday, the top infectious disease officer in the United States, Drs. Anthony Fauci said in the World Economic Forum that the origin of the virus that brought the world to its knees is still unknown, “a big black box, which is terrible

The mission was delayed by repeated negotiations and failures, one of which prompted an unusual public complaint by the WHO chief.

The arrival of the WHO mission has revived the controversy over whether China responded too slowly in the early days to allow the virus to spread globally.

Right from the beginning, WHO officials have been seeking greater cooperation from China with limited success.

Audio recording of internal WHO meetings Received and first aired Tuesday by The Associated Press, Tuesday shows that even when the WHO publicly praised China, officials complained of not receiving enough information in private.

The UN agency has no enforcement powers, so it must rely on the goodwill of member states.

Keiji Fukuda, a public health specialist at the University of Hong Kong, has called the visit an “image-building mission”, in which China is eager to be transparent and WHO is eager to show it.

“Both China and WHO are expected to get some brownie points,” said former WHO official Fukuda. “But it all comes down to what the team’s reach will be. Will they really be able to ask the questions they want to ask? “


Kang reported from Beijing.


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