A World Health Organization-led team of experts investigating the origins of COVID-19 visited the currently closed market of Huanan in Wuhan city, where the new coronavirus was initially detected. This is reported by Reuters.
The team arrived at Huanan amid heavy security, with additional barricades set up outside a high blue fence surrounding the market, and left in a convoy after about one hour. The experts did not take questions from journalists.
No full itinerary for the team’s two weeks of field work has been announced, and journalists covering the tightly controlled visit have been kept at a distance from team members.
Public access to the sprawling Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market has been restricted since it was shut at the beginning of last year.
Experts say the Huanan market still plays a role in tracing the origins of the virus, since the first cluster of cases was identified there.
The WHO-led probe in Wuhan has been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between China and the United States, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticized the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.
The origins of the virus have become highly politicised, and some Chinese diplomats and state media have thrown support behind theories that the virus potentially originated in another country.
The team had been set to arrive in Wuhan earlier in January, and China’s delay of their visit drew rare public criticism from the head of the WHO, which the-then U.S. President Donald Trump accused of being “China-centric”.