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5 Jan, 2021 20:17

WHO chief 'disappointed' China still hasn't approved entry of Covid-19 experts investigating pandemic origins

WHO chief 'disappointed' China still hasn't approved entry of Covid-19 experts investigating pandemic origins

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke on Tuesday of his disappointment that China had not yet authorized the entry of an international team of WHO scientists in order to trace the origins of coronavirus in Wuhan.

"Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team's arrival in China. I am very disappointed with this news," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news briefing.

The WHO chief said two experts had already embarked on traveling to China, adding that he had spoken to senior Chinese officials and "once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for the WHO."

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Members of the team began their journey in the last 24 hours, and Ghebreyesus said he had been assured that Beijing was speeding up its procedures to allow entry to the scientists.

China has repeatedly denied accusations, including from US President Donald Trump, that it tried to cover up how the pandemic evolved after the first Covid-19 cases were traced to the city of Wuhan in December 2019, with some early cases linked to a food market. 

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