WUHAN – A. World health organizationA team of experts studying the origins of Covid-19 visited Huanan Market, the seafood wholesale center in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first discovered, on Sunday.
The team of experts arrived in Huanan on Sunday afternoon, amid a heavy security presence, and additional barricades were erected in front of a tall blue fence around the market.
The WHO experts did not respond to questions from reporters gathered at the entrance as their convoy drove into the market. The barricades fell as soon as they were kicked.
Public access to the market has been severely restricted since it closed early last year. Before it closed, it was a busy market with hundreds of stalls divided into sections for meat, seafood, and vegetables.
Some Chinese diplomats and state media have stated that the market is not the origin and have supported theories that the virus may have originated in another country.
On December 31, 2019, after four cases of mysterious pneumonia were linked to the market, it was closed overnight. Wuhan was locked for 76 days through January.
Experts say the Huanan market still has a role in tracking the origins of the virus as it was there that the first group of cases were identified.
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After a two-week quarantine in the city that ended Thursday, the WHO team is expected to visit laboratories, markets and hospitals in Wuhan.
No exact itinerary has been disclosed, but WHO has announced that the team plans to visit Huanan Market and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The WHO-led investigation in Wuhan was plagued by delays, access concerns and dispute between China and the United States, who accused China of hiding the scale of the initial outbreak and criticized the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts criticized the first phase of research.
The team was due to arrive in Wuhan in early January, and the delay in visiting China was rarely publicly criticized by the WHO chief, whom former US President Donald Trump described as “China-centered”.