By Babajide Okeowo
Following a barrage of international criticism over its lack of transparency during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, the Asian country will host ten World Health Organization, WHO scientists from Thursday to probe the origins of COVID-19.
The WHO team “will conduct joint research cooperation on the origins of COVID 19 with Chinese scientists,” the National Health Commission said in a statement.
The long-awaited mission — which has been under discussion since last year — is of great political significance at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated major countries worldwide, caused almost two million deaths, and brought the global economy to a standstill.
The team of WHO experts will be expected to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in China, and are expected to visit Wuhan — the city where a deadly virus cluster first emerged late last year — in the course of their trip.
Recall that the US and Australia have led international calls for an inquiry into the origins of the pandemic, putting China under significant pressure amid growing calls for accountability.
Also, a last-minute delay to the mission earlier this month earned China a rare rebuke from the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who has previously expressed support for China’s handling of the virus.