Coronavirus Singapore

WHO team to fly from S'pore to Wuhan today

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

A World Health Organisation (WHO) team of international experts is due to depart Singapore today for the Chinese city of Wuhan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday.

The team is investigating the origins of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian had told a regular news briefing in Beijing that the team was due to arrive in Wuhan today from Singapore.

In response to queries, the Singapore MFA spokesman said: "We note that the PRC (People's Republic of China) MFA has mentioned at its press conference on Jan 12 that the World Health Organisation international mission to investigate the zoonotic origin of Sars-CoV-2 would fly from Singapore to Wuhan on Jan 14.

"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 is looking 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".

Since its detection, the coronavirus has spread around the world, infecting more than 90.5 million people and killing nearly two million. Much remains unknown about its origins.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'WHO team to fly from S'pore to Wuhan today'. Print Edition | Subscribe