WHO investigators heading to China in early January to probe coronavirus

People walk on a pedestrian street in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province, in September 2020. PHOTO: AFP

ZURICH (REUTERS) - World Health Organisation (WHO) officials said on Friday (Dec 18) that an international team led by the UN agency would be going to China in the first week of January to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mike Ryan, WHO's top emergency expert, said international experts would go to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first cases of Covid-19 were detected last December.

"We still don't have a take-off date because we are working on the logistics around visas and flights. We do expect the team to be going there in the first week of January. There will be quarantine arrangements," Ryan told a news conference.

"The team will visit Wuhan, that's the purpose of the mission. The point of the mission is to go to the original point at which human cases were detected. They'll fully expect to do that," he added.

WHO officials also said that three-quarters of cases were occurring in the Americas, and thanked Canada for committing to donate vaccine doses to other countries.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on Covid-19, said the agency was in touch with South African researchers who identified a new variant of the Sars-CoV2 virus.

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World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Friday (December 18) an international team led by the UN agency would be going to China in the first week of January to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

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