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WHO Criticizes China For Hindering COVID-19 Origin Investigation: WSJ

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WHO Criticizes China For Hindering COVID-19 Origin Investigation: WSJ

In a rare step of criticizing a supporting government, the World Health Organization (WHO) expressed disappointment in its first press conference of 2021 that Beijing has delayed permission to United Nations investigators to probe the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What Happened: “Today we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online news conference in Geneva.

A team of ten on the U.N. agency’s team researching the pandemic’s source had left their home countries on Monday after the Chinese government had agreed to allow their entry, WSJ reports.

With team members en route, Chinese officials had not yet finalized the necessary permissions for their arrival. Some members were still waiting for the visa while one member began returning home. 

“I have once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team. I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedure,” Dr. Tedros said.

Why It Matters: Reuters reports that Beijing has tried to shape the narrative about when and where the pandemic began. Senior diplomat Wang Yi said that “more and more studies” showed that it emerged in multiple regions.

WHO has been negotiating with the Chinese government to get information on how the disease may have first crossed into the human population and access to Wuhan's key sites, WSJ noted.

“I believe there hasn’t been any problem in cooperation with the WHO. There might be some misunderstanding in this. But there is no need to read too much into it,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a daily briefing.

Washington has announced plans to leave the WHO and criticized its terms under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research. The U.S. has called for a “transparent” investigation, Reuters notes.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia

 

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