By Tony Winterburn • 30 January 2021 • 13:44
WHO Covid Investigation Team 'Tightly Controlled' On Visit To Chinese Hospital. image: Marion Koopmans- Twitter
WHO Covid Investigation Team ‘Tightly Controlled’ On Visit To Chinese Hospital.
The World Health Organization-led team investigating the origins of COVID-19 during a mission that has been ‘tightly controlled’ by its Chinese hosts visited a hospital today, Saturday, in the central city of Wuhan that had treated many early coronavirus patients.
On its second day out following two weeks in quarantine, the team visited Jinyintan Hospital, where doctors had collected samples from patients suffering from an unidentified pneumonia in late 2019. “Important opportunity to talk directly w/ medics who were on the ground at that critical time-fighting COVID!”, team member Peter Daszak said on Twitter.
Team members leaving the hospital did not speak to journalists, who have been kept at a safe distance since the group left its quarantine hotel on Thursday.
“Just back from visit at Jinyintan hospital, that specialised in infectious diseases and was designated for treatment of the first cases in Wuhan. Stories quite similar to what I have heard from our ICU doctors,” team member Marion Koopmans tweeted.
The WHO-led probe has been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between Beijing and Washington, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.
The organisation, which has sought to manage expectations for the mission, said on Friday that team members would be limited to visits organised solely by their Chinese hosts and would not have any contact with community members, due to health restrictions.
It was exactly a year ago, the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), its highest level of alarm. China has continually pushed the idea that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered in Wuhan, with state media citing the presence of the virus on imported frozen food packaging and scientific papers saying it had been circulating in Europe in 2019.
China’s foreign ministry has also hinted that the sudden closure of a U.S. Army laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland in July 2019 was linked to the pandemic.
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