18:05 GMT06 March 2021
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    A group of 13 experts from the World Health Organization arrived in China in early January to investigate the origin of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s first response to the health crisis. Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is the epicentre of speculation about COVID-19's artificial origins, is also expected to host the researchers.

    A member of the WHO team praised “excellent facilities” at the Hubei Animal Disease Control and Prevention Centre, as the group of experts were leaving the heavily guarded facility on Tuesday.

    Peter Daszak, a zoologist with the EcoHealth Alliance who is visiting Wuhan as part of a 13-member WHO delegation, told reporters outside the centre that the experts had a “very informative meeting”, as he earlier claimed that the China trip was going “really well, excellent”.

    He also noted on Twitter that the investigators were meeting with officials responsible for “livestock surveillance in Hubei Province” and were touring lab facilities at the centre, concluding with “in-depth discussion Q&A”.
    Peter Ben Embarek, right, gestures as Peter Daszak, left, approaches to bump fists with him before they leave the hotel with other members of a World Health Organization team for another day of field visit in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021
    © AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
    Peter Ben Embarek, right, gestures as Peter Daszak, left, approaches to bump fists with him before they leave the hotel with other members of a World Health Organization team for another day of field visit in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021

    No further details were given by the WHO team despite the public's increasing curiosity about what the inquiry unveils. The health experts have not so far visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a place conspiracy theorists have linked to SARS-Cov-2 “leakage”, but the visit to the lab is expected, according to the team’s lead Maria Van Kerkhove.

    According to the most recent reports, it could take place as early as Wednesday. 

    The Wuhan institute is home to the Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, a laboratory where Chinese Professor Shi Zhengli, also known to many as “Batwoman”, has been studying types of coronavirus induced by bats for nearly two decades. In December, Professor Shi said that she would gladly welcome the team to the research facility during their visit to Wuhan.

    The official account of events is that the present coronavirus pandemic originated from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, with the virus being transmitted from animals and mutating to human forms.

    On Sunday, the WHO staffers paid a visit to the place, as well as key regional hospitals and the disease control centre in Hubei province, where the first cases of coronavirus were officially reported back in December 2019 to then spread globally.

    The experts arrived in China in the first weeks of January and after the two-week quarantine have launched their offline quest for truth which is expected to last for years.

    Tags:
    coronavirus, COVID-19, Wuhan, China, World Health Organization (WHO)
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