Two members of a team led by the World Health Organization who arrived in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to investigate the origins of COVID-19 remained in Singapore after testing positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, said the global body.
The 15-person team had all tested negative for the disease before leaving their home countries, and underwent further testing while in transit through Singapore.
Nucleic acid test results were negative but showed two of the members had antibodies to the coronavirus, the Geneva-based agency said in a tweet.
“They are being tested again for IgM and IgG antibodies,” the WHO said.
This is the latest setback for a mission plagued by delays as well as a concern about what access the team will get.
The rest of the team arrived in Wuhan from Singapore on Thursday morning on a low-cost airline and were due to head for two weeks of quarantine.
“Relevant epidemic prevention and control requirements and regulations will be strictly enforced,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a regular briefing Thursday in response to a question about the epidemics. two team members.
The team tasked with investigating the origins of the new coronavirus that triggered the global pandemic was due to arrive earlier this month. The delay in their visit by China drew rare public criticism from the WHO chief.
The group left the Wuhan airport terminal through a plastic quarantine tunnel marked “epidemic prevention passage” for international arrivals and boarded a cordoned off bus that was guarded by half a dozen people. ‘security guards in full protective gear. The coronavirus was initially linked to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan.
Team members did not speak to reporters, although some waved and took media photos from the bus as it left.
The United States, which accused China of hiding the extent of its initial outbreak a year ago, called for a “transparent” WHO-led investigation and criticized the conditions of the visit, as part of which Chinese experts carried out the first phase of research. .
The team arrived in China as the country battles a resurgence of coronavirus cases in its northeast after nearly succeeding in eradicating domestic infections in recent months.
Peter Ben Embarek, WHO’s leading expert on animal diseases that transmit to other species, who visited China on a preliminary mission last July, led the team traveling to Wuhan, said said a WHO spokesperson previously.
Hung Nguyen, a Vietnamese biologist who was part of the team, told Reuters during a stopover in Singapore on Wednesday that he did not expect any restrictions on the group’s work in China, but warned that the team might not find clear answers.
After completing the quarantine, the team will spend two weeks interviewing people from research institutes, hospitals and the Wuhan seafood market, where the new pathogen is believed to have emerged, Hung added.
The group would mainly stay in Wuhan, he said.
Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” that China still did not allow the team’s entry for the long-awaited mission, but on Monday it welcomed the announcement of their planned arrival.
“What we would like to do with the international team and the counterparts in China is go back to the environment of Wuhan, re-examine the original cases in depth, try to find other cases that were not detected in that time and try to see if we can push back the story of the first cases, ”Ben Embarek said in November.
China released a story to state media that the virus existed overseas before it was discovered in Wuhan, citing the presence of the virus on imported frozen food packages and scientific articles claiming it had circulated in Europe in 2019.
“We are looking here for the answers that could save us in the future – not the culprits or the people to blame,” Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency specialist, told reporters this week, adding that the WHO was ready to go “anywhere and everywhere” to find out how the virus came about.
Another member of the team, Marion Koopmans, a virologist at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, said last month it was too early to say whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus had passed directly from bats to humans or had an intermediate animal host.
“At this point, I think we need a very open mind when we try to look back at the events that ultimately led to this pandemic,” she told reporters.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)