The World Health Organization took the rare step of criticizing China on Tuesday, using its first press conference of the new year to express disappointment that Beijing still did not allow UN investigators to investigate the origins of the coronovirus epidemic.
WHO Director General Tedros Adnom Ghebius told reporters that several scientists from the team of the United Nations agency researching the source of the epidemic had moved out of their homes on Monday and Tuesday, as the Chinese government agreed to allow their entry. Was expressed. Dr. Tedros said that when the team members were briefed on Tuesday, WHO was told that Chinese authorities had not finalized the necessary permission for their arrival.
WHO executive director of emergency programs Mike Ryan said some members were still awaiting visas, and at least one member has started at home.
“I am very disappointed with this news,” Dr. Tedros said. “I have once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for the WHO and the international team. I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal process. “
“We look forward to completing the mission as soon as possible,” he said.
The unusual reprimand was a sign of tension building between the agency and one of its most important members,
For nearly a year, the WHO has been in talks with the Chinese government to find out how the disease would have crossed the human population for the first time, as well as access to major sites in Wuhan.
The answer could help prevent another virus from making a similar leap to animals, epidemiologists say, and could clear up debate on how long the virus had been circulating, or that the initial mutation caused it to spread. Gave and eventually killed at least 1.9 million people. Tuesday.
The WHO rarely criticizes national governments that fund their budgets and elect their leaders. For its top official to exclude China, it shows how much the agency has struggled to achieve Beijing’s cooperation on key issues. In late January of last year, the WHO panel, working with the declaration of a public health emergency, expressed disappointment that epidemiological data sent from China were too inappropriate and unclear to act.
Days later, Drs. Tedros flew to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with several WHO officials later attempting to encourage Beijing to reveal more about the nature of the then mysterious outbreak .
But in the intervening year, the WHO has struggled to obtain and use information that will help it address an important question hinging on the epidemic: how the disease first started infecting people in late 2019 was.
WHO employees who arrived in February 2020 were not allowed to visit the seafood market in Wuhan, hosting some of the earliest case groups. In May, Australia withdrew its proposal to call investigators to trace the origin of the epidemic to almost all WHO member states. That effort gained momentum in the summer, when WHO scientists joined in subsequent visits to China, but were still not allowed to visit the market in Wuhan, which was cleared on December 31, 2019, within hours of the word unaffected and Was cleaned The outbreak is first reaching WHO.
Alexandra Phelan, a researcher at the Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, said, “WHO is a member state organization and they rarely call them until the efforts at the back have actually failed.” “It tells us that the lines of communication are broken.”
According to a Chinese government white paper referenced by the country’s National Health Commission, Chinese government officials defended their initial actions by stating that China had released information about the new virus “in an open, transparent and responsible manner and by law.” According to “introduced.
It has also raised doubts as to whether the virus actually originated in China, with senior Chinese diplomats tweeting articles and videos suggesting it may have started in the US – generally Scene rejected by epidemiologists. In a speech to the WHO in May, Mr. Xi expressed uncertainty about the origins of the epidemic, saying, “We need to continue supporting global research by scientists on the source and transmission routes of the virus.”
In the US, President Trump vowed to leave the WHO, with senior administration officials saying that Drs. The Chinese government’s admiration for Tedos’s Kovid-19 response is largely behind that decision. In April, Republicans in the House of Representative Foreign Affairs Committee wrote to WHO that Drs. Tedros failed to resign. Other governments that have poor relations with China – such as Japan, Taiwan and Australia – have blamed the WHO for not being more important to China, calling the United Nations agency the geopolitical tensions between China and America’s allies in Asia Is placed in the center of.
Adam Comrade-Scott, a global health security scholar at the University of Sydney, said “this Chinese government wants to end the argument of whether the virus started elsewhere”. “They are trying very clearly and trying to divert attention from China being the source of the virus.”
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