13 WHO scientists arrive in Wuhan to probe Covid origins

13 WHO scientists arrive in Wuhan to probe Covid origins

Beijing/Wuhan: Thirteen international experts of the WHO arrived in Wuhan on Thursday for the long-awaited probe into the origins of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic, while two others did not board the flight from Singapore to the central Chinese city after they tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

The international team of 13 scientists examining the origins of the virus that causes #COVID19 arrived in Wuhan, #China, today. The experts will begin their work immediately during the 2 weeks quarantine protocol for international travellers, the World Health Organisation said in a tweet.

Two scientists are still in #Singapore completing tests for #COVID19. All team members had multiple negative PCR and antibody tests for COVID-19 in their home countries prior to travelling , it said.

They were tested again in #Singapore and were all negative for PCR. But two members tested positive for IgM antibodies. They are being retested for both IgM and IgG antibodies , the WHO said.

The two experts failed to clear the screening procedures and were blocked from travelling to China, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Chinese officials involved in the screening process blocked the two delegation members from boarding their plane to the central Chinese city of Wuhan after both tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in blood-based serology tests during transit in Singapore the report said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian defended the denial of permission to the two scientists saying that relevant epidemic and control requirements and regulations will be strictly enforced .

We will also support and offer convenience to WHO experts' travel to China, he told a media briefing replying to a question about the denial of permission to the two scientists and referred the media to competent authorities for details.

China requires passengers flying from Singapore to take a nucleic acid test and an IgM antibody test up to two days before boarding China-bound flights.

The 13 WHO experts would go through a 14-day quarantine. They are set to interview people from research institutes, hospitals and the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak.

The WHO team includes virus and other experts from the US, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam.

The United States and Australia have led the charge in criticising China's handling of the initial stages of the pandemic, accusing Beijing of downplaying its severity and preventing an effective response until too late.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the global pandemic. The US has also said that China had not properly reported information it had about the Coronavirus and had pressured WHO to mislead the world.

China has denied the charges and maintained that it has fully cooperated with the WHO in combatting the


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