China says its ban on a WHO mission is a ‘misunderstanding’


China claims its ban on a WHO mission to find the origin of coronavirus is a ‘misunderstanding’ amid growing suspicions of a cover-up

  • It comes after the head of WHO criticised China for not finalising permissions
  • Foreign Ministry said China’s position on origins of virus ‘has always been open’
  • Spokesman Hua Chunying said that China is in close co-operation with the WHO

China has said it is still negotiating with the World Health Organisation over the dates and itinerary for a visit by international experts looking into the origins of Covid-19.

It comes after the head of the agency criticised Beijing for not finalising permissions for the mission.

China’s position on the hunt for the origins of the pandemic ‘has always been open and responsible’, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

She said that China is in close co-operation with the WHO. However, the dates and itinerary need to be finalised, she said.

China’s position on the hunt for the origins of the pandemic ‘has always been open and responsible’, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (pictured)

‘The origins problem is very complex. To ensure that the work of the global experts group in China is successful and to carry out the necessary procedures and relevant concrete plans, currently both sides are still in negotiations on this,’ Ms Hua told a regular press briefing.

‘I understand that it’s not just a visa problem and the actual date and itinerary. Both sides are still in close communication.’

China’s disease experts are currently busy with multiple small-scale clusters and outbreaks reported in the past couple of weeks, she added.

‘Our experts are wholeheartedly in the stressful battle to control the epidemic,’ she said.

An international team of experts had been due to visit the central city of Wuhan in January, where the pandemic first appeared a year ago.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that members of the international scientific team began departing from their home countries over the last 24 hours as part of an arrangement between the WHO and the Chinese government.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that members of the international scientific team began departing from their home countries over the last 24 hours as part of an arrangement between the WHO and the Chinese government

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday that members of the international scientific team began departing from their home countries over the last 24 hours as part of an arrangement between the WHO and the Chinese government

‘Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,’ Dr Tedros said during a news conference in Geneva.

‘I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials,’ he said.

The Chinese government has been strictly controlling all research at home into the origins of the virus, an Associated Press investigation found, and state-owned media have played up reports that suggest the virus could have originated elsewhere.

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