A World Health Organization (WHO) team is set to come out of quarantine and begin on-the-ground investigations into the origins of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The scientists will begin interviewing people from research institutes, hospitals and the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak.
Their research will rely upon evidence provided by Chinese officials.
This comes after months of negotiations between the WHO and Beijing.
In an interview with CNN, Dutch virologist and team member Marion Koopmans said: “The eyes of the world are focused on this, the opinions of the world are focused on this.”
The group of 13 experts had arrived in Wuhan on 14 January, and are preparing to end their two-week quarantine on Thursday. While in quarantine, the team had been in video calls with each other and Chinese scientists.
Day 14 of our quarantine in Wuhan!! Slightly sad to say goodbye to my “gym” & my “office” where I’ve been holed up for last 2 wks!! (Clue – It’s all in the same room…). Moving into next phase of work now w/ @WHO mission team & China counterparts. pic.twitter.com/SC75H70WMK
— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) January 28, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
Covid-19 was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019, but China has been saying for months that it is not necessarily where the virus originated.
Professor Dale Fisher, chair of the global outbreak and response unit at the WHO, told the BBC in an earlier interview that he hoped the world would consider this a scientific visit. “It’s not about politics or blame but getting to the bottom of a scientific question,” he said.
Prof Fisher added that most scientists believed that the virus was a “natural event”.
It was initially believed the virus originated in a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat. It was suggested that this was where the virus made the leap from animals to humans.