Search for Corona origin: WHO experts arrived in Wuhan

The Chinese leadership had long been blocked. But now experts from the World Health Organization have landed in Wuhan. You want to find out how the coronavirus spread.

By Steffen Wurzel, ARD-Studio Shanghai

The World Health Organization (WHO) team of experts arrived in Wuhan early this morning with a line machine from Singapore. The scientists are to research the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic in China.

Two scientists are not allowed to enter

However, two members are stuck in Singapore. According to the WHO, Covid-19 antibodies were found in both of them in a rapid test. This could indicate a previous infection. Apparently, Chinese officials prevented the scientists from checking into Wuhan.

The WHO stressed that the scientists had been tested negative for the virus several times with PCR tests in their home countries before they left. In Singapore, too, PCR tests were negative for all delegation members. The two victims would now be tested again for antibodies.

14 days hotel quarantine

But even the 13 international scientists who were allowed to enter cannot start right away. A spokesman for the Chinese health authority confirmed yesterday: For the WHO investigation team, the usual rules apply after entering China, i.e. at least 14 days of hotel quarantine. Even during this time, it is said, the international experts will be exchanging ideas with Chinese colleagues in video conference calls.

The experts come from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Japan, Qatar, Russia, the USA and Vietnam. The WHO delegation is headed by Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on animal diseases that spread to other species.

Intermediate host wanted

The first Covid 19 cases occurred in the Chinese city of eleven million Wuhan at the end of 2019. Most international scientists assume that bats were the original hosts of the corona lung virus. It is unclear which animal served as the intermediate host in the transmission to humans. China’s leadership and the country’s media claim the virus was introduced into China from outside.

At its annual conference in May, the WHO decided to send an international team of experts to China to research the origin of the Covid pandemic. China’s state and party leadership had delayed the arrival of the researchers for months. Observers do not expect the WHO experts in China to be able to research freely.

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