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WHO staff visits Wuhan market the place COVID first detected

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WHO staff visits Wuhan market the place COVID first detected

A World Well being Group-led staff of specialists investigating the origins of COVID-19 have visited Huanan market, the now-shuttered wholesale seafood market within the Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan the place the novel coronavirus was initially detected.

The staff arrived at Huanan on Sunday amid heavy safety, with extra barricades arrange exterior a excessive blue fence surrounding the market, and left in a convoy after about one hour.

“Essential web site visits immediately – a wholesale market first & Huanan Seafood Market simply now,” Peter Daszak, a zoologist with the US group EcoHealth Alliance and a member of the WHO staff, mentioned in a tweet.

“Very informative & essential for our joint groups to grasp the epidemiology of COVID because it began to unfold on the finish of 2019.”

The specialists didn’t take questions from journalists. One flashed a thumbs-up signal when reporters requested how the journey was going.

Years of analysis

Since being launched from a two-week quarantine on Thursday, the staff has visited hospitals and markets, in addition to an exhibition commemorating Wuhan’s COVID battle, which included a 76-day lockdown of the town of 11 million.

A single go to by scientists is unlikely to substantiate the virus’s origins. Pinning down an outbreak’s animal reservoir is usually an exhaustive endeavour that takes years of analysis, together with taking animal samples, genetic evaluation and epidemiological research.

One risk is {that a} wildlife poacher might need handed the virus to merchants who carried it to Wuhan.

The WHO, which has sought to handle expectations for the mission, mentioned on Friday that staff members can be restricted to visits organised by their Chinese language hosts and wouldn’t have any contact with neighborhood members due to well being restrictions.

No full itinerary for the staff’s two weeks of fieldwork was introduced, and journalists protecting the tightly managed go to have been stored at a distance from staff members.

Tracing the origins

Public entry to the sprawling Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market has been restricted because it was shut at the start of final 12 months.

Earlier than its closure, the market bustled with a whole lot of stalls divided into sections for meat, seafood and greens.

Now it stands as a landmark in a metropolis that was traumatised as the unique epicentre of what turned a worldwide pandemic.

On December 31, 2019, after 4 instances of a thriller pneumonia have been linked to the market, it was shuttered in a single day. By the top of January, Wuhan had gone right into a 76-day lockdown.

Consultants say the Huanan market nonetheless performs a job in tracing the origins of the virus, because the first cluster of instances was recognized there.

On the anniversary of the Wuhan lockdown, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit launched 3 Days that Stopped the World, which confirmed the times main as much as the lockdown of the town. The footage, smuggled out of China as a result of it was censored by the Chinese language authorities, confirmed how the town hospitals struggled to deal with sufferers whereas officers tried to maintain journalists from reporting on the growing variety of contaminated.

The WHO-led probe in Wuhan has been tormented by delays, concern over entry, and bickering between China and america, which accused China of hiding the extent of the preliminary outbreak and criticised the phrases of the go to, below which Chinese language specialists carried out the primary section of analysis.

The origins of the virus have change into extremely politicised and a few Chinese language diplomats and state media have thrown assist behind theories the virus probably originated out of the country.

The staff had been set to reach in Wuhan earlier in January, and China’s delay of the go to drew uncommon public criticism from the top of the WHO, which then-US President Donald Trump accused of being “China-centric”.