The team is on a fact-finding mission in Wuhan, China, where the earliest cases of COVID-19 were reported in December 2019.

Officer checking temperature of a man using a thermal scanner amidst COVID-19 pandemic in IndiaImage for representation/PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 14:13

A World Health Organisation (WHO) team has emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers, who were required to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, could be seen leaving their hotel and boarding a bus on Thursday afternoon. It wasn't immediately clear where they were headed. The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak.

A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to.

According to a report, the team is led by Peter Ben Embarek, an expert of WHO on diseases that cross over to other species from animals. The team is expected to be in China for two more weeks.

The origin of the coronavirus, which has turned into a global pandemic since, has been a highly political topic. While former President of the United States Donald Trump was at the forefront to accuse China of ‘unleashing’ the virus, China has been pushing a narrative that this virus existed abroad even before it was discovered in Wuhan.

Over 10 crore cases of COVID-19 have been reported since December 2019 with over 21.74 lakh people dying due to the infection. The US alone has reported over 4.29 lakh deaths followed by Brazil with 2.20 lakh. India has reported over 1.07 crore COVID-19 cases and over 1.53 lakh deaths till date due to COVID-19. Several European countries have also reported a second wave of infections since and at least two other variants of the virus have been reported since the disease was first reported in December 2019.

(With PTI inputs)

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