IslamNews – WHO team to begin Wuhan Covid-19 probe as China warns US against politicising it
A team of experts from the World Health Organization left quarantine in Wuhan on Thursday to begin a heavily scrutinised probe into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, after Washington urged a “robust and clear” investigation.
The group started a two-week quarantine on arrival on January 14 in the central Chinese city where the first known cluster of virus cases emerged in late 2019.
The virus is believed to have come from bats and to have initially spread from a wet market in Wuhan where wild animals were sold as food.
The WHO insists the visit will be tightly tethered to the science of how the virus — which has killed more than two million people — jumped from animals to humans.
But in a sign of the political baggage attached to their mission, US President Joe Biden’s new administration weighed in before the experts had even finished quarantine.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, new White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it was “imperative we get to the bottom” of how the virus appeared and spread worldwide.
Psaki voiced concern over “misinformation” from “some sources in China” and urged a “robust and clear” probe.
Beijing snapped back on Thursday, warning the United States to “respect facts and science, respect the hard work” of the WHO experts.
They must be allowed to work “free from political interference”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
But in a mission dogged by delays and obfuscation from their Chinese hosts, it was not clear what the expert team will be allowed to see in Wuhan — or what useful evidence remains a year after the outbreak in a country which has vigorously controlled the narrative of how the pandemic began.