China coronavirus shock: WHO reveals reason for skipping Wuhan to find origins of virus

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The World Health Organisation sent a preliminary team to China last month to lay the groundwork for a future investigation into the origins of COVID-19. But the WHO have now been condemned for not visiting Wuhan, which is widely accepted to be the site of the virus’ initial outbreak, in their visit. It comes after the health body has been criticised repeatedly for its alleged bias to China.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the health body, has claimed the preliminary investigation was never intended to focus on Wuhan.

He said: “It was not their intention to start the study and they had no plans to travel to Wuhan.

“When then the group of international experts are put together then of course naturally they will travel to Wuhan to start the study because it’s the basics of inquiries like this to start their study from where the first report came.”

Dr Mike Ryan, director of the WHO’s emergencies programme, added intial investigators did speak to workers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in a video conference.

Two WHO officials visited China in July to start work on investigating COVID-19’s origins in the country.

The WHO said the pairs exclusion of Wuhan was because the operation was an “advance mission”.

A later visit will come this year, after the preliminary investigation was completed and described as “productive”.

The WHO is now asking all member states to propose experts for the next mission, which will include an investigation in Wuhan.

It comes after the WHO were condemned for skipping the city in their first investigation by member states.

Australian MP Dave Sharma claimed to the Financial Times the oversight is more evidence of the health body failing to address the pandemic properly.

He said: “The international community is right to have serious concerns about the rigour and independence of the WHO’s early response to this pandemic, and its seeming wish to avoid offending China.

“If this allegation is proven, it is another disturbing incident of the WHO – which is charged with safeguarding global public health – putting the political sensitivities of a member state above the public health interests of the world.”

Australia has led international calls for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus in China.

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The WHO has been repeatedly criticised for being allegedly biased towards China throughout the pandemic.

US president Donald Trump pulled the country’s funding from the WHO on July 7, over concerns about the health body’s links to China.

Mr Trump said at the time: “The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government.”

He also accused China of pressurising the WHO to “mislead the world” about the virus, without giving evidence for his allegations.

An investigation from the Associated Press revealed WHO officials were privately frustrated over the lack of transparency and access in China in January.

The investigation revealed the frustration after accessing internal audio recordings from the health body.

Complaints included that China delayed releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information.

Top WHO leaders complained privately in meetings the week of January 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time.

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