WHO team visits Wuhan wet market to find COVID clues

World Sunday 31/January/2021 16:29 PM
By: DW
WHO team visits Wuhan wet market to find COVID clues

A World Health Organization (WHO) team tracing the origins of COVID-19 on Sunday visited a food market in Wuhan, where the virus was initially detected.

The 10-strong international team walked through sections of the Baishazhou seafood center — one of the largest wet markets in Wuhan — surrounded by a large entourage of Chinese officials and representatives.

Public access to the market has been restricted since the authorities closed it at the beginning of last year.

On December 31, 2019, four cases of a mystery pneumonia were reported in the market, which was later identified as the novel coronavirus. By the end of January, Wuhan had gone into a 76-day lockdown to contain the COVID-19 spread.

International health experts believe the market still plays a role in tracing the origins of the virus. A single visit by scientists, however, is unlikely to confirm the virus' origins.

On Saturday, WHO experts continued their probe into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic on the second full working day with a visit to the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital.

The experts arrived in China on January 14, but spent two weeks in mandatory quarantine. During this time they communicated with Chinese officials by video calls to lay the groundwork for field visits.

The team will also visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and laboratories at medical facilities, including the Wuhan Center for Disease Control.

China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps and cover-ups in its early response to the coronavirus outbreak and has pushed the idea that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered in Wuhan.