By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Beijing: An expert mission to China to find the origins of the coronavirus pandemic stumbled before it even began, with the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) revealing that Beijing was blocking the team from entering the country.
The head of the World Health Organization has announced its researchers have been denied entry into China, barring them from investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing that they learned on Tuesday that Chinese officials have yet to grant their investigation team permission to enter the country.
“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 given that two members had already begun their journeys,” Ghebreyesus said
He added that he is in contact with senior officials to whom he has made clear the investigation mission is a priority for the WHO.
“I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedure for the earliest possible deployment, We are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible,” he added
However. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said the issues had to do with visa clearances.
“We trust and we hope that this is just a logistic and bureaucratic issue, which can be resolved very quickly,” he said.
”The two members of the 10-person team had already left their home countries with the rest of the team expected to deploy Tuesday but one of them has instead gone to a third country while the other was rerouted for a short journey home”, Ryan added.
“We did not want to put people in the air unnecessarily if there was not a guarantee of their arrival in China being successful,” he said.
In May, the WHO approved a resolution led by the European Union and Australia to establish an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, despite China’s pushback.
The 10-member team was announced last month following months of negotiations as Beijing has been reluctant to allow an independent probe of the origins of the virus within its borders.
The United States has heavily criticized China over its handling of the pandemic and has accused the WHO of aiding the Asian nation in covering up its initial outbreak of the virus.
In July, President Donald Trump announced he had sent a formal notice to Congress and the United Nations that the United States is withdrawing from the WHO over these issues.