WHO experts to visit China on January 14 for virus origins probe
Updated 14:54, 11-Jan-2021

Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) tasked with investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus will arrive in China on January 14, according to China's National Health Commission (NHC).

"After consultation between the two sides, the WHO international experts team on the traceability of the novel coronavirus will visit China on January 14 to conduct joint scientific cooperation with Chinese scientists," according to a statement published on the NHC website on Monday. 

The commission did not provide further details on the scientists' itinerary. 

But earlier, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus introduced at a virtual media briefing that WHO experts will prepare scientific plans with their Chinese counterparts for identifying the zoonotic source of the disease.

Tedros specified that the experts will develop the scope and terms of reference for a WHO-led international mission, whose objective is to advance the understanding of animal hosts for COVID-19 and ascertain how the disease jumped between animals and humans.

"Identifying the origin of emerging viral disease has proven complex in past epidemics in different countries. A well planned series of scientific researches will advance the understanding of animal reservoirs and the route of #COVID19 transmission to humans," Tedros tweeted after the media briefing. 

"This process is an evolving endeavor which may lead to further international scientific research and collaboration globally," Tedros said.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in January, the WHO has dispatched scientists to China twice in an effort to trace the virus origin, first in February and then in July.

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