Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

By Martin Quinn Pollard And thomas peter

WUHAN, China (Reuters) – The World Health Organization-led team investigated the origin of COVID-19 during a mission, tightly controlled by its Chinese hosts, visited a hospital in the central city of Wuhan on Saturday , In which coronovirus patients were treated.

On its second day after two weeks in quarantine, the team went to the Jinintan Hospital, where doctors collected samples from patients suffering from unknown pneumonia in late 2019.

Team member Peter Daszak said on Twitter, “The chance to speak directly at the crucial moment / who were fighting COVID at that critical time!”

Team members leaving the hospital did not speak to reporters, who have been kept away from the group after leaving their quarantine hotel on Thursday.

Team member Marion Kopamans tweeted, “Back from a trip to Jinintan Hospital, which specialized in infectious diseases and was nominated for treatment for the first time in Wuhan. What I heard from doctors in my ICU was very much like- Resembles. “

The WHO-led investigation has been plagued by delays between Beijing and Washington over access and concerns that accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticized the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts said the research Conducted the first phase. .

The WHO, which has sought to manage expectations for the mission, said on Friday that team members would be limited to visits organized by their Chinese hosts and would have no contact with community members due to health restrictions.

Exactly one year ago, the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), its highest level of alarm.

The group’s visit has not been announced, but the WHO said the team plans to visit the seafood market at the center of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, along with the initial outbreak. One hypothesis rejected by China is that the outbreak was caused by a leak in a government lab.

Later on Saturday, the WHO team went to an exhibition center, featuring a display of early efforts to deal with the outbreak in Wuhan, which included a 76-day lockdown in a city of 11 million.

The investigative team was scheduled to arrive in Wuhan earlier in January, and the delay in their visit to China drew rare public criticism from the head of the WHO, accusing former US President Donald Trump of being “China-centric”.

China has pushed the idea that the virus was present abroad before it was discovered in Wuhan, with state media citing the presence of the virus on imported frozen food packaging and scientific papers stating that it was roaming Europe in 2019 Was.

China’s Foreign Ministry has also indicated that the sudden closure of the US Army laboratory at Fort Dittrick, Maryland in July 2019 was linked to the epidemic.

(Reporting by Martin Quinn Pollard and Thomas Peter in Wuhan and Gabriel Crossley in Beijing; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebe in Geneva; Written by Tony Munro)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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