The World Health Organization (WHO) team embarked upon its first full day investigating the origins of Covid in China.
The 13-member visiting team travelled to the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine on Friday, where doctor Zhang Jixian as the first to report ‘an unknown pneumonia’ in an elderly couple in late 2019
‘Extremely important 1st site visit. We are in the hospital that treated some of the first known cases of COVID-19, meeting with the actual clinicians & staff who did this work, having open discussion about the details of their work,’ Peter Daszak, a British member of the WHO-led team, wrote on Twitter.
The team also plans to visit the seafood market at the centre of the early outbreak, though this has been widely discounted as the source of the virus.
The team had previously been confined to a hotel in the epicentre city of Wuhan while they waited out a 14-day mandatory quarantine, which ended Thursday. They were allowed to interview Chinese medics over video chat during this time.
But as the world waits for results, the WHO has cautioned there is ‘no guarantee of answers’ amid fears that China will seek to hide information it finds embarrassing or incriminating from the researchers.
Beijing has already been accused by medics within its own country of covering up the initial spread of Covid, while its diplomats have jumped on any excuse to point the finger of blame for the virus overseas.
Investigators have been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between China and the United States.
America has accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, which saw Chinese experts conduct the initial research.