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China Says Ready to Cooperate with WHO to Advance Global Coronavirus Tracing Efforts

People wearing masks walk across a street, almost a year after the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

People wearing masks walk across a street, almost a year after the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

Asked to confirm the team's visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing that the WHO has also updated China on the global efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus. China stands ready to enhance its cooperation with the WHO to advance the global tracing efforts to contribute our share in the early victory over the pandemic," he said.

China, which questions the view that COVID-19 emerged from Wuhan, on Thursday said it is ready to enhance its cooperation with the WHO to advance the global efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus, as a team of experts of the UN health agency prepares to visit the central Chinese city. The 10-member team will travel to Wuhan next month to investigate the origins of COVID-19, the BBC quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying.

Asked to confirm the team's visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing that the WHO has also updated China on the global efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus. China stands ready to enhance its cooperation with the WHO to advance the global tracing efforts to contribute our share in the early victory over the pandemic," he said.

In October, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media that the epidemic broke out in various places in the world at the end of last year, while China was the first to report the outbreak, identified the pathogen and shared the genome sequence with the world. Even though China was the first to report coronavirus but doesn't necessarily mean China is where the virus originated," Zhao Lijian, another spokesman of the Foreign Ministry told the media on November 27.

China has been reluctant to agree to an independent inquiry and it has taken many months of negotiations for the WHO to be allowed access to the city. The virus is believed to have been originated from the wet market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year. It remained sealed since then.

The search for the source has led to tensions between the US and China. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused China of trying to conceal the initial outbreak. The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the 194-member states of the WHO, in May approved a resolution to set up an independent inquiry to conduct an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response as well as that of the WHO.

It asked the WHO to investigate the "source of the virus and the route of its introduction to the human population". China, which has backed the inquiry with a rider that it should commence after the coronavirus was brought under control, said it is getting ready to receive the experts' team.

Globally, there have been 74,378,599 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,652,235 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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first published:December 17, 2020, 22:46 IST