Published: Thu, January 14, 2021
Science | By

World Health Organization team arrives in Wuhan for virus investigation

World Health Organization team arrives in Wuhan for virus investigation

An antibody test could indicate that a person is in the acute phase of infection when testing positive for the IgM antibody, which is the first wave of antibodies generated to fight infection.

The mission has been months in the making, but has been dogged by delays.

The worldwide team of 13 scientists landed for their much-delayed mission, met by Chinese officials in hazmat suits and given throat swabs on arrival, and were whisked to a hotel where they must complete a two-week quarantine before starting their work.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian defended the denial of permission to the two scientists saying that "relevant epidemic and control requirements and regulations will be strictly enforced".

The group left the airport terminal in Wuhan through a plastic quarantine tunnel marked "epidemic prevention passage" for global arrivals and boarded a cordoned-off bus that was guarded by half a dozen security staff in full protective gear.

A group of 10 scientists is set to interview people from research institutes, hospitals and the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak.

Team members did not speak to reporters, although some waved and took pictures of the media from the bus as it departed.

World Health Organization said earlier that the worldwide team of experts had landed in Wuhan for the long-delayed mission, but it later tweeted that two had yet to make it there.

The investigators - a range of virus, food safety and other experts - face a battle to find the source of the pandemic more than a year after the mysterious virus was first detected.


"Understanding the origin of disease is not about finding somebody to blame", said Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of Health Emergencies at the WHO.

The team arrived in China as the country battles a resurgence of coronavirus cases in its northeast after managing to almost stamp out domestic infections in recent months.

The team of researchers plan to visit the market to investigate those possibilities, the Journal reported.

The group would mainly stay in Wuhan, he said.

The team's partial arrival comes after Chinese authorities delayed the trip by more than a week, and after nearly a year of wrangling and negotiation by the World Health Organization to gain access to the central Chinese city where the coronavirus emerged. But they later began to say they can not rule out the possibility that it was brought in from overseas because the virus has been detected in some imported foods.

"We are looking for the answers here that may save us in future - not culprits and not people to blame", the WHO's top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, told reporters this week, adding that the World Health Organization was willing to go "anywhere and everywhere" to find out how the virus emerged.

But where the virus came from and how it was transmitted to humans remain unknown.

"I don't think we will have clear answers after this initial mission, but we will be on the way", Embarek added.

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