The visit is ultra-sensitive for the Chinese power which seeks to exclude any responsibility in the epidemic which has killed nearly two million people in the world since its start a year ago in the metropolis of Wuhan (center).
The WHO team is responsible for tracing the origins of Covid-19. It includes scientists of different nationalities who arrived from Singapore on a scheduled flight.
Health crisis requires, 13 members of the team, according to the WHO, were welcomed on Chinese soil by staff in full suits. They had to undergo a Covid test and will have to spend two weeks in quarantine before they can go to the field for their research.
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But the team is not yet complete.
Two members are still in Singapore, the WHO said. They tested positive before leaving for China and are due to undergo a further round of examinations.
The mission, which includes ten scientists, is expected to last between five and six weeks in total.
– ‘Reduce risk’ –
It will allow you to explore “all tracks“but will not seek to identify a culprit, told AFP one of its members, Fabian Leendertz, of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany.
“It’s about understanding what happened to reduce risk in the future“, insisted M. Leendertz.
More “do not expect that […] the team comes back with conclusive results“from this first visit, he warned.
Originally scheduled last week, the mission was canceled at the last minute for lack of all the necessary permissions for the team.
And during a rare criticism of China, the head of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus regretted that his investigators could not go to the country.
China has largely eradicated the epidemic since the spring, thanks to strict movement controls, widespread mask wear, containment measures and cell phone tracking apps.
But the country has recorded rising balance sheets in recent days – even if they remain very far from the statements announced abroad.
On Thursday, he reported 138 new contaminations, the worst daily toll since March.
The majority of the new cases reported were in Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing (81 contaminations). And it is precisely in this province that a death from the new coronavirus was announced Thursday by the health authorities.
They gave no further details.
– ‘Emergency state’ –
The last death in China linked to Covid-19 officially dates back to last May. According to the authorities’ record, 4,635 people in the country have now succumbed to the disease.
The news quickly generated a reaction on social media and the topic surpassed 270 million views on Weibo, the equivalent of Twitter in China.
“It’s shocking, it’s been so long since I saw the words + virus death +“in China”, an Internet user was alarmed.
This new death comes after the appearance in recent days of several outbreaks of contamination, leading to a firm response from the authorities.
Heilongjiang, a province bordering on Russia, proclaimed on Wednesday “emergency stateIts some 37.5 million inhabitants have been instructed to stay in the province except in an emergency and to cancel any planned gathering.
The upsurge in Covid cases worries the authorities as the Chinese New Year approaches, which falls this year on February 12 and gives rise to hundreds of millions of displacements of migrant workers returning to their families.
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