One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) finally arrived in Wuhan this Thursday, trying to find out its origin. The mission did not start too well because two of its fifteen experts could not fly because they tested positive for antibodies precisely to Covid-19, since China requires that all the tests be negative to enter. With these two specialists stranded in Singapore and awaiting further analysis, the other thirteen have already begun their investigation … in quarantine.
Of the more than a month they will spend in China, the first two weeks are for the mandatory quarantine locked in a hotel room. As announced, they will take advantage of that time to hold interviews with their Chinese counterparts by videoconference. When they are finished, they will spend another two weeks in Wuhan visiting research centers, hospitals and the Huanan market, where wild animals were sold and it is suspected that this new coronavirus, called Sars-Cov-2, which has unleashed the worst pandemic in a century.
At the moment, the only thing that is known is that it seems to come from bats, but those animals were not sold in the Huanan fish market and it is unknown in what other intermediate species the coronavirus mutated until it passed to humans. Although experts assure that they will have access to all the information, the Chinese regime is trying to slip away as the origin of the pandemic and points out that it entered the Huanan market through frozen foods imported from abroad, something that the WHO itself considers unlikely .
IN ITS CONTEXT:
Millions of people, at least, are confined to try to stop a number of infections that, despite everything, is very low in relation to Western countries.
- Reinforcement of controls.
The authorities continue to tighten controls against the traditional mobilization of millions of Chinese on the occasion of the Lunar New Year holidays, which begins on February 12.
To do this, Beijing relies on inconclusive studies that have found antibodies in Italy and the United States before the outbreak in Wuhan. But the newspaper ‘South China Morning Post’ already revealed in its day that the first cases of coronavirus in China were detected on November 17, earlier than officially recognized.
The mission comes a year after the outbreak in Wuhan and plagued by doubts about the transparency of the authoritarian regime in Beijing, which tried to hide the epidemic by silencing the doctors who warned about it, such as Dr. Li Wenliang. Under a highly charged international climate because Covid-19 has become a political issue, the work of the experts will not be easy and will be under the scrutiny of public opinion at all times.
In addition to the mission’s 13 virologists, epidemiologists, doctors and veterinarians, who come from Japan, Qatar, Germany, Vietnam, Russia, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, the team includes technicians from WHO and from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Connected by internet, from abroad they will be assisted by two scientists from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“The idea is to advance a series of studies that we have designed to better understand what happened in December. These studies will help us to go back in time in order to identify geographical areas where the virus could have jumped into the human population, ”explains the head of the mission, food safety expert Peter Ben Embarek, in a video recorded by WHO. , who was already in China in July. Lowering expectations, he assures that “it can be a very long journey before getting a full understanding of what happened. I don’t think we will get clear answers after this first mission. But we will be on the way, and hopefully in the coming months it will be completed with expeditions and further studies that will slowly lead us to an understanding of the origins of the virus.
The first death
Another bad sign is that the arrival of the WHO mission coincides with the worsening of outbreaks in China, which have already claimed their first life in eight months. Since May 17, the country had not reported deaths from the coronavirus, which was under control after the long and harsh confinement of Wuhan. Until Wednesday, when a patient died of the outbreak in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing and has set off alarms.
This Thursday, the authorities reported 138 new cases; 124 of local transmission and 14 imported from abroad. Of the local infections, 81 were detected in Hebei, where there are three confined cities and more than 500 infected, and 43 in Heilongjiang, a province bordering Russia with more than a hundred. With the closures of Shi jiazhuang, the provincial capitals of Hebei, Xingtai and Langfang, as well as other towns in Heilongjiang, more than 20 million people have been confined to stop these outbreaks.