WUHAN, China — A global team of researchers has arrived in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to investigate its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries.
The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of WHO.
Scientists suspect the virus that has killed more than 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals. Beijing, stung by accusations it allowed the disease to spread, says the virus came from abroad, but foreign scientists say that is unlikely.
The team includes scientists from the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands, Qatar and Vietnam. According to a WHO statement, two members contracted COVID-19 in Singapore and are quarantining there. The other 13 members must quarantine for two weeks after their arrival in Wuhan.
According to the Associated Press, spokespeople for the Chinese government have said that they will "exchange views" with the WHO scientists, but did not indicate if they would allow the scientists to gather evidence.