Friday, March 5, 2021

WHO crew visits Wuhan market the place COVID first detected

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A World Health Organization-led crew of consultants investigating the origins of COVID-19 have visited Huanan market, the now-shuttered wholesale seafood market within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan the place the novel coronavirus was initially detected.

The crew arrived at Huanan on Sunday amid heavy safety, with extra barricades arrange exterior a excessive blue fence surrounding the market, and left in a convoy after about one hour.

“Very important site visits today – a wholesale market first & Huanan Seafood Market just now,” Peter Daszak, a zoologist with the US group EcoHealth Alliance and a member of the WHO crew, stated in a tweet.

“Very informative & critical for our joint teams to understand the epidemiology of COVID as it started to spread at the end of 2019.”

The consultants didn’t take questions from journalists. One flashed a thumbs-up signal when reporters requested how the journey was going.

Years of analysis

Since being launched from a two-week quarantine on Thursday, the crew has visited hospitals and markets, in addition to an exhibition commemorating Wuhan’s COVID battle, which included a 76-day lockdown of town of 11 million.

A single go to by scientists is unlikely to verify the virus’s origins. Pinning down an outbreak’s animal reservoir is often an exhaustive endeavour that takes years of analysis, together with taking animal samples, genetic evaluation and epidemiological research.

One chance is {that a} wildlife poacher might need handed the virus to merchants who carried it to Wuhan.

The WHO, which has sought to manage expectations for the mission, stated on Friday that crew members could be restricted to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and wouldn’t have any contact with group members due to well being restrictions.

No full itinerary for the crew’s two weeks of fieldwork was introduced, and journalists overlaying the tightly managed go to have been stored at a distance from crew members.

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Tracing the origins

Public entry to the sprawling Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market has been restricted because it was shut initially of final 12 months.

Before its closure, the market bustled with lots of of stalls divided into sections for meat, seafood and greens.

Now it stands as a landmark in a metropolis that was traumatised as the unique epicentre of what turned a worldwide pandemic.

On December 31, 2019, after 4 instances of a thriller pneumonia had been linked to the market, it was shuttered in a single day. By the top of January, Wuhan had gone right into a 76-day lockdown.

Experts say the Huanan market nonetheless performs a task in tracing the origins of the virus, for the reason that first cluster of instances was recognized there.

On the anniversary of the Wuhan lockdown, Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit launched 3 Days that Stopped the World, which confirmed the times main as much as the lockdown of town. The footage, smuggled out of China as a result of it was censored by the Chinese authorities, confirmed how town hospitals struggled to deal with sufferers whereas officers tried to maintain journalists from reporting on the rising variety of contaminated.

The WHO-led probe in Wuhan has been tormented by delays, concern over entry, and bickering between China and the United States, which accused China of hiding the extent of the preliminary outbreak and criticised the phrases of the go to, underneath which Chinese consultants carried out the primary section of analysis.

The origins of the virus have change into extremely politicised and a few Chinese diplomats and state media have thrown help behind theories the virus doubtlessly originated out of the country.

The crew had been set to arrive in Wuhan earlier in January, and China’s delay of the go to drew uncommon public criticism from the pinnacle of the WHO, which then-US President Donald Trump accused of being “China-centric”.


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