WUHAN: A team of WHO experts researching the source of the coronavirus visited Saturday’s propaganda exhibition celebrating China’s recovery from the Wuhan pandemic, following a hospital meeting that handled the first reported cases of Covid-19 over a year earlier.
So far, specifics of the trip have been scarce, with the media held at arm’s length and information on the itinerary dribbling out instead of China’s tight-lipped Communist authorities from tweets from World Health Organization experts.
As the horrors of the virus erupted in the central Chinese region, the party was pushed to Jinyintan Hospital, the first to accept formally diagnosed Covid-19 patients in late 2019.
Crew member Peter Daszak welcomed the hospital visit in a tweet as a “important opportunity to speak directly with physicians who were on the ground fighting COVID at that critical time!” The team toured a cavernous show on Saturday afternoon, applauding the emergency response of the Wuhan health authorities in the tumultuous, alarming early stages of the epidemic, as well as the Communist leadership’s agility to control an unforeseen disaster.
China denied the team entry until mid-January and there are question marks about what scientists might expect to discover a year after the virus first appeared. The WHO mission comes with strong diplomatic baggage.
He told a press conference in Geneva that “success is not necessarily measured in the absolute search for a source on the first mission.”
“This is a difficult endeavour, but all we need to do is compile all the details… And come to an estimation of how much more we know about the disease’s roots and whether more research might be required to elucidate that.
Last week, after the White House ordered a “robust and clear” probe, China cautioned the United States of “political interference” during the tour.
The WHO maintains that the probe would hold closely to the science of how the virus transferred to humans from wildlife, thought to be bats.
In what WHO’s Ryan described as a “very busy, busy schedule,” the team is also scheduled to visit the market suspected to have seen the first big cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other laboratories.
Beijing is desperate to condemn the tumultuous early stages of the epidemic for its treatment.
At home and internationally, it has refocused resources on its management and regeneration from the epidemic.
The pandemic has ripped through the globe after sliding through China’s borders, killing more than two million people and wrecking economies.
China has bounced back, with a comparatively low confirmed death toll of 4,636, and has immediately locked down areas where cases have been discovered, tested millions and regulated travel to snuff out the epidemic.
Despite the epidemic last year, the country’s economy expanded by 2.3 percent and its government lacks any hope of bragging of the country’s resilience and renewal.
The WHO visit was flagged by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson on Friday as “a part of global research” into the pandemic. “It is not an investigation,” reporters were told by Zhao Lijian.