WHO experts denied entry into China
CAPE TOWN - The World Health Organization (WHO) said China has denied entry to its team of experts who will be investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was disappointed after the arrangements were jointly agreed on in advance.
A team of 10 are due to arrive in Wuhan as part of the probe. Meanwhile, two scientists on the United Nations’ team who had already left their home countries for China said Chinese officials had not approved the required permissions to enter the country.
“We learnt that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva.
"I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team," he said.
Tedros added that they were eager to get the mission under way as soon as possible. It will be led by Peter Ben Embarek, WHO’s expert on animal diseases that cross the species barrier.
Dr Michael Ryan, WHO's health emergencies chief, said the one member was in transit in a third country while the other had been turned back due to visa issues.
“We trust and hope that is just a logistic and bureaucratic issue and that it can be resolved very quickly,” said Ryan.
WHO decided to hold an inquiry into the global pandemic, which was first detected in Wuhan in December 2019, after more than 100 countries signed a resolution in aid of an independent investigation.
Meanwhile, China has disregarded criticism from the United States on the actions and handling of the early stages of the pandemic.