The World Health Organization expressed dissappointment over China not finalising the permissions for the arrival of the team that was to investigate the origin of the coronavirus, said world health body chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday (local time).
“Over the past 24 hours, members of the international scientific team on COVID-19 virus origins began traveling from their home countries to China. Today we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” he said.
The WHO Chief said that the official visit was as per arrangements jointly developed between WHO, the Chinese government, and countries for which the team was meant to travel through on their way to Wuhan.
He added, “I am very disappointed with this news given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute. But 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.”
Tedros said that the global health body is eager to get the mission underway “as soon as possible”.
Beijing had previously said it would give the WHO’s expert team full access to investigate the virus origin.
While China has dismissed criticism of its handling of early cases that emerged in late 2019, some leaders including US President Donald Trump have questioned Beijing’s actions during the outbreak. Trump has often called it the ‘ChinaVirus’ and has repeatedly called for the Chinese government to be held accountable for “this plague”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also slammed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for continuing to spread disinformation regarding Covid-19, and obstructing the investigation of the World Health Organization (WHO) in finding out the origin and spread of the virus.
Sino-Australian relations have been in a downward spiral since April, when Canberra infuriated Beijing by proposing an independent international inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, who was detained in May for her live stream reporting from Wuhan over COVID-19, has been sentenced to four years of imprisonment in late December, Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.
She has been convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for her reporting in the chaotic initial stages of the outbreak.
As per the latest update by Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus cases across the globe currently stands at over 85 million cases and 1.8 million deaths.