WUHAN, China (AP) – A World Health Organization team went out of quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to begin field work in a fact-finding mission on the origin of the virus, the COVID-19 pandemic. Caused
The researchers, who were to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, left their quarantine hotel and boarded a bus at midnight.
The mission has become politically charged, as China attempts to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its initial response to the outbreak. A big question is who will allow the Chinese side to go to the researchers and who will they be able to talk to.
Yellow barriers blocked the entrance to the hotel, keeping the media a short distance away. Before the researchers climbed in, workers in full safety gear could be seen loading their belongings on the bus, including two musical instruments, a dumbbell and four yoga mattresses.
Hotel staff said goodbye, as the researchers boarded the bus, possibly moving to another hotel. The bus driver wore a white protective suit over the entire body. The researchers wore face masks.
Earlier this month, former WHO official Keiji Fukuda, who is not part of the team in Wuhan, warned against expecting any success, saying it could take years to draw any firm conclusions on the origin of the virus .
“It’s now well over a year’s past when it all started,” he said. He said, ‘A lot of such physical evidence has been left out. People’s memories are impenetrable and perhaps the physical layout of many places is going to be different from how and how they are moving forward. ”
Some of the places they can visit include the Huanan Seafood Market, which was previously associated with several cases, as well as research institutes and hospitals that treat patients at the height of the outbreak.
The mission only came after considerable wrangling between the two sides, causing WHO to receive a rare complaint that China was taking too long to make a final arrangement.
China, which strongly opposed an independent investigation, could not fully control it, said the case was complex and that Chinese medical staff were busy with new virus clusters Beijing, Shanghai and other cities.
While the WHO was initially criticized, especially by the US, for not being sufficiently critical of the Chinese response, it recently accused China and other countries of moving too slowly at the onset of the outbreak Leveled, which attracts a rare entry from the Chinese side. it could be better.
Overall, however, China has strongly defended its response, possibly out of concern for reputational or financial costs if this shortfall was found.
“WHO and global experts have fully confirmed China’s epidemic prevention success and previous original tracing work,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday. “There is a consensus on cooperation from both sides on core-related research, and related work is progressing smoothly.”
Chinese officials and state media have tried to doubt whether the virus even started in China. Most experts believe it came from bats, presumably in southwestern China or neighboring areas of southeast Asia, before being given to any other animals and then humans.
Genesis discovery will attempt to determine where and how it happened.
Associated Press photographer Ng Han Guan contributed to this report.