WHO expert team to transit through Singapore on way to Wuhan

The team is investigating the origin of the novel coronavirus. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - A World Health Organisation (WHO) team of international experts is due to depart Singapore on Thursday (Jan 14) for the Chinese city of Wuhan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Wednesday.

The team is investigating the origin of the coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan just over a year ago.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday that the team was due to arrive in Wuhan on Thursday from Singapore.

In response to queries, the Singapore MFA spokesman said: "We note that the PRC MFA has mentioned at its Press Conference on 12 January that the World Health Organisation international mission to investigate the zoonotic origin of SARS-CoV-2 would fly from Singapore to Wuhan on 14 January 2021.

"As a member of the WHO and a friend of both China and the WHO, Singapore is happy to play our part by facilitating the transit of the members of the WHO's international field mission. The international mission is mandated by a World Health Assembly Resolution co-sponsored by more than 130 countries, including Singapore and China.

"We have maintained Changi Airport as a transit hub and implemented appropriate public health measures to ensure efficient and safe transit operations for transit passengers and workers at Changi Airport. We have facilitated many transits, including for the WHO and other UN organisations."

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said his organisation looked forward to working with China on the mission to identify the source of the virus and how it had entered the human population.

He had previously said he was "very disappointed" when the experts were denied entry earlier in the month, forcing two members of the team to turn back. China said there had been a "misunderstanding".

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