WUHAN, China: World Health Organisation team members researching the source of the coronavirus pandemic visited another hospital in Wuhan that handled patients with early COVID-19 on their second complete working day on Saturday (Jan 30).
Jinyantan Hospital was one of the first in the city to address patients suffering from a then-unknown virus in early 2020 and is a central component of the disease’s epidemiological past.
Unit members of the World Health Organisation, including Ken Maeda, right, are planning to depart on Saturday, Jan 30th, 2021, for a second day of field visit in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province. (Image: AP/Ng Han Guan)
The team’s first face-to-face meetings with Chinese scientists were conducted on Friday, before another early epidemic location, the Hubei Combined Chinese and Western Medicine Hospital, was visited by experts specialized in animal welfare, virology, food protection and epidemiology.
The WHO, headquartered in Geneva, said on Twitter late Thursday that its team intends to visit clinics, markets such as the Huanan Seafood Market that was connected to several of the first incidents, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and facilities such as the Wuhan Center for Disease Prevention laboratories.
As the team embraces science in their work to explain the source of the COVID19 virus, both theories remain on the table,” WHO tweeted.” It said the team had also demanded “detailed underlying data” and intended to talk to some of the first patients and early responders.
As China tries to escape criticism for perceived missteps in its early reaction to the epidemic, the task has become politically charged.
It is doubtful that a single visit by scientists would validate the source of the virus. Pinning down the animal reservoir of an epidemic is usually an exhaustive effort that requires years of study, involving animal sampling, genetic examination, and epidemiological studies.
Security staff leap over a fence at the entrance to the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital where, on Saturday, January 30, 2021, a World Health Organization team visited Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province.
One explanation is that the virus may have been transmitted by a wildlife poacher to merchants who brought it to Wuhan. With no facts, the Chinese government has supported suggestions that the epidemic may have began with shipments of frozen fish infected with the virus, a suggestion that foreign scientists and agencies have roundly denied.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology is a potential subject for investigators. One of China’s leading virus research laboratories, after the 2003 epidemic of SARS or extreme acute respiratory syndrome, developed an archive of genetic knowledge on bat coronaviruses.