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WHO workforce in Wuhan to probe origins of coronavirus as China reviews first dying in months

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Members of the World Well being Organisation (WHO) workforce tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic sit on a bus earlier than leaving Wuhan Tianhe Worldwide Airport in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 14, 2021. Photograph: Reuters 
  • Scientists will full two-week quarantine earlier than beginning in Wuhan
  • Peter Ben Embarek warns that it “could be a very long journey”
  • Journey comes as greater than 20 million persons are below lockdown in north of China and one province has declared an emergency

WUHAN: World Well being Organisation’s workforce of specialists arrived in Wuhan to analyze the coronavirus from the town the place the an infection originated from amid reviews that China had seen its first COVID-19 dying in eight months.

The ten scientists, who should full a two-week quarantine in Wuhan earlier than beginning their work, arrived for his or her much-delayed mission to look at the orgins of the pandemic.

The virus was first detected within the central Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan in late 2019 and has since billowed out internationally killing practically two million individuals thus far, infecting tens of hundreds of thousands and eviscerating the worldwide financial system.

State broadcaster CGTN confirmed the aircraft carrying the workforce arrive from Singapore to be met by Chinese language officers in full hazmat fits.

Learn extra: WHO workforce to probe COVID-19 origins will arrive in China on Jan 14

Their journey comes as greater than 20 million persons are below lockdown within the north of China and one province has declared an emergency, with COVID-19 numbers climbing after a number of months of being comparatively static.

China had largely introduced the pandemic below management by means of strict lockdowns and mass testing, hailing its financial rebound as a sign of robust management by the Communist authorities.

However one other 138 infections have been reported by the Nationwide Well being Fee on Thursday — the best single-day tally since March final yr.

Clusters are nonetheless small in contrast with many international locations contending with rampant infections and document numbers of deaths, and the primary virus fatality in a number of months — reported in northern Hebei province — seeded alarm throughout China.

Beijing is anxious to stamp out native clusters forward of subsequent month’s Lunar New 12 months competition when tons of of hundreds of thousands of individuals will probably be on the transfer throughout the nation.

Well being authorities gave no particulars in regards to the newest dying besides that it occurred in Hebei province, the place the federal government has positioned a number of cities below lockdown.

Learn extra: The Wuhan lab on the coronary heart of the US-China coronavirus spat

As infections have unfold, northeastern Heilongjiang declared an “emergency state” on Wednesday, telling its 37.5 million residents to not depart the province until completely vital.

As information of the most recent dying emerged on Thursday, the hashtag “New virus death in Hebei” rapidly ratcheted up 100 million views on Chinese language social media platform Weibo.

“I haven’t seen the words ‘virus death’ in so long, it’s a bit shocking! I hope the epidemic can pass soon,” one person wrote.

No deaths have been reported in mainland China since Might final yr, with the official dying toll now standing at 4,635.

WHO arrival

The newest dying comes as China braces for the scrutiny the arrival of the skilled workforce of WHO scientists will deliver.

Peter Ben Embarek, workforce lead for the mission, stated the group would begin with a compulsory quarantine at a lodge as a consequence of Chinese language immigration necessities.

“And then after the two weeks, we would be able to move around and meet our Chinese counterparts in person and go to the different sites that we will want to visit,” he stated.

He warned it “could be a very long journey before we get a full understanding of what happened”.

Beijing has argued that though Wuhan is the place the primary cluster of circumstances was detected, it’s not essentially the place the virus originated.

Learn extra: Wuhan bans consumption of untamed animals as COVID-19 circumstances surge

“I don’t think we will have clear answers after this initial mission, but we will be on the way,” Embarek added.

“The idea is to advance a number of studies that were already designed and decided upon some months ago to get us a better understanding of what happened,” he stated.

The long-delayed WHO journey comes greater than a yr after the pandemic started and has sparked political tensions over allegations that Beijing tried to thwart the undertaking.

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