Tracing COVID-19 origin for scientific answers, not to blame anyone: WHO

medical worker
A medical worker: Image courtesy: IANS

Geneva: The mission of a World Health Organization (WHO) research en route to China to conduct investigations into the origins of the novel coronavirus, is about scientific answers, a senior official said here.

"Understanding the origins of disease is not about finding somebody to blame, it is about scientific answers," Xinhua news agency quoted Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, as saying at a virtual press conference here on Monday.

Responding to a question on whether the world body might send teams to any other countries, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 response at the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that the research studies will go where the initial patients were identified and the WHO is also working with different networks.

On Monday, China said that it supports scientists of all countries in carrying out global scientific research on the origin and route of transmission of the virus, and supports member states in conducting cooperation on the animal origin of the virus under the leadership of the WHO.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a press conference in response to a question regarding China's announcement that an international expert team of the WHO will arrive in China on Thursday to conduct joint research with Chinese scientists to trace the origin of the coronavirus.

Monday's developments come a week after the WHO claimed that a team had been denied entry to China.

The world body said that two members of the team were already en route, adding that the problem was a lack of visa clearances, the BBC reported.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said that he was "very disappointed" that China had not yet finalised the permissions for the team's arrivals "given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute".

In response however, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the BBC "there might be some misunderstanding" and "there's no need to read too much into it".

The WHO had been working to send a 10-person team of international experts to China and it was announced in December 2020 that the investigation would begin in January 2021.

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