China has been strongly opposed to calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, saying that such calls are anti-China but now it opened to an investigation led by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO investigators are due to travel to China in January but it is unclear whether they will travel to the city of Wuhan where the virus was first detected. Discussions on the itinerary are ongoing.
The United States, that has accused China of having hidden the extent of the outbreak, has called for a “transparent” WHO-led investigation and criticised its terms, which allowed Chinese scientists to do the first phase of preliminary research. Chinese state media have suggested that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered in Wuhan, citing its presence on imported frozen food packaging and scientific papers claiming that it had been circulating in Europe last year.
A WHO spokesperson said the exact timing of the trip would depend on obtaining the results of some other tests that are being carried out initially, without giving further details. However, referring to the ongoing discussions with China over the trip, the spokesperson stated that “these are, of course, important for us, and to get an overall picture of how the investigation will go.”
More than 72,92 million people have been reported to be infected by the COVID-19 pandemic globally and 1.641.733 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
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Sinologist and Chief Analyst on Chinese Affairs at Nato Defense College Foundation. Foreign affairs writer for international magazines and publications.