China allows entry of initially-barred WHO expert for pandemic probe

Beijing, China – A scientist in a team commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to research the pandemic's origins was allowed to enter China on Friday after initially being barred on virus concerns.

The WHO team arrived in Wuhan on Thursday to investigate the origins of the coronavirus.
The WHO team arrived in Wuhan on Thursday to investigate the origins of the coronavirus.  © imago images / Kyodo News

The scientist was one of two experts in the 15-member team who had been denied entry after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies during a layover in Singapore, which possibly indicated a previous infection.

"To show our support for the WHO, the Chinese side consented to conduct a second round of serum antibody tests," a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

The British expert tested negative in the second antibody test and was permitted to enter the country, while the other expert, who comes from Qatar, tested positive again.

All of the 15 experts also tested negative in the PCR tests carried out in Singapore.

The rest of the team arrived in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday, where they were placed in a two-week quarantine. The WHO said they would still be able to conduct work while isolating.

The team's mission is to work with Chinese scientists to investigate whether the virus can be traced back to its origins.

The coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease, was first discovered over a year ago in the central Chinese metropolis.

The search for the origin of the virus is politically sensitive as China fears being fingered as the culprit for the pandemic.

For months Chinese authorities have been casting doubt on whether the virus originated in China at all.

Cover photo: imago images / Kyodo News

More on the topic Coronavirus: