A group of 10 worldwide scientists will journey to the Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan subsequent month to analyze the origins of Covid-19, the World Well being Group (WHO) has stated.
China has not opposed an unbiased investigation, though the WHO has been negotiating for entry to town for quite a few months.
The virus is believed to have come from a market within the metropolis promoting animals.
However the seek for the supply has led to tensions, notably with the US.
President Donald Trump’s administration has accused China of making an attempt to hide the preliminary outbreak.
What’s the purpose of the investigation?
A biologist on the group travelling to Wuhan instructed the Related Press information company that the WHO was not searching for to apportion blame, however relatively to stop future outbreaks.
“It is actually not about discovering a responsible nation,” Fabian Leendertz of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute stated.
“It is about making an attempt to grasp what occurred after which see if, based mostly on these knowledge, we will attempt to cut back the chance sooner or later.”
Dr Leendertz stated the purpose was to seek out out when the virus started circulating and whether or not or not it originated in Wuhan.
The mission was anticipated to final 4 or 5 weeks, he added.
The place and when was the virus first detected?
Within the early days of the virus, it was traced to a so-called “moist market” in Wuhan, Hubei province, and it was prompt that this was the place it made the leap from animals to people.
However specialists now consider it could merely have been amplified there.
Analysis means that coronaviruses able to infecting people might have been circulating undetected in bats for many years.
Final December, a Chinese language physician at Wuhan Central Hospital – Li Wenliang – tried to warn fellow medics a couple of doable outbreak of a brand new illness, however was instructed by police to “cease making false feedback” and was investigated for “spreading rumours”.
Dr Li died in February after contracting the virus whereas treating sufferers within the metropolis.
In April, suspicions and allegations emerged that the virus may need leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan.
US State Division cables got here to mild suggesting that embassy officers have been apprehensive about biosecurity there.
The workplace of the US nationwide intelligence director stated on the time that whereas the virus was not man-made or genetically modified, officers have been investigating whether or not the outbreak started by way of contact with animals or by way of a laboratory accident.
Current experiences in Chinese language media have prompt that Covid-19 may have began exterior China.
However analysts say the experiences are with out basis, and the marketing campaign displays anxiousness inside the management in Beijing about harm to the nation’s worldwide popularity from the pandemic.
Will entry to Wuhan present solutions?
Evaluation by Naomi Grimley, BBC well being correspondent
The query of an unbiased inquiry into the origins of the virus has turn into embroiled in worldwide geopolitics and rows in regards to the WHO.
The Trump administration has at all times taken a tough line, arguing that the WHO has been too delicate on China and citing examples of officers praising the Chinese language regime for its actions resembling locking down Wuhan, mass testing and its publication of the genetic code of the virus.
Nevertheless, plenty of different international locations additionally stated there wanted to be a correct inquiry – together with Australia and the UK. The Related Press revealed transcripts of video calls from WHO officers complaining again in January that that they had not acquired the suitable knowledge they wanted from the Chinese language authorities. A two-man WHO group that visited China this summer time had issue negotiating entry to Wuhan.
This journey, when it does occur, will most likely think about basic organic questions: did the virus initially come from bats? Was there an “intermediate host” linking bats to people? And have been Wuhan moist markets on the centre of the preliminary outbreak?
What has been the response to China’s reporting of the virus?
China’s tackling of the creating disaster was praised in January by the pinnacle of the WHO’s Well being Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan, who stated the “problem is nice however the response has been large”.
Beijing had helped gradual the unfold of the virus, the WHO stated, by shortly volunteering to share its information of the virus’s genetic code.
Nevertheless, the US – amongst quite a few different international locations – raised questions on whether or not China was absolutely clear when the virus first emerged there.
In March, the pinnacle of the WHO in China, Dr Gauden Galea, instructed the BBC there have been “shortcomings” in tackling the outbreak within the early days, however that specialists would take a look at how points could possibly be averted sooner or later.
Mr Trump later attacked the WHO itself for being too “China-centric” in praising Beijing, saying the organisation “actually blew it” with its early steering through the outbreak.
He introduced that he was pulling the US out of the physique and stated funding can be redirected elsewhere.
Nevertheless, US President-elect Joe Biden, who is because of be sworn in on 20 January, has since arrange a overseas coverage group tasked with retaining America within the WHO.