Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images
A team of 13 World Health Organization scientists have now arrived in Wuhan, Chian, where they will investigate the origins of the coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. Nearly 2 million people have died due to the coronavirus, with more than 92 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“The experts will begin their work immediately during the 2 weeks quarantine protocol for international travelers,” the WHO said Thursday.
Members of the team began the process of traveling to China more than a week ago, after discussions between the WHO, China’s government, and other countries the scientists would travel through on their way to Wuhan. The WHO announced the trip had begun on Jan. 5. But that same day, the international health agency were told that Chinese officials had not given final permissions for the team to arrive and begin their work.
“I am very disappointed with this news given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the time.
The scientists spent time in limbo in Singapore, waiting for final approval to enter China and travel to Wuhan.
“All team members had multiple negative PCR and antibody tests for COVID-19 in their home countries prior to traveling,” the WHO said. “They were tested again in Singapore and were all negative for PCR. But two members tested positive for IgM antibodies,” the agency adds, saying that those two scientists will now be retested for antibodies.
More than one year after the first alarms were raised in China about an unknown pathogen that was then identified as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the country has reported fewer than 100,000 cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.