World Health Organization investigators on Wednesday visited a research center in the Chinese city of Wuhan that has been the subject of speculation about the origins of the coronavirus, with one member saying they'd intended to meet key staff and press them on critical issues. The WHO team's visit to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was a highlight of their mission to gather data and search for clues as to where the virus originated and how it spread, the AP reports. "We’re looking forward to meeting with all the key people here and asking all the important questions that need to be asked," zoologist and team member Peter Daszak said, according to footage run by Japanese broadcaster TBS.
One of China’s top virus research labs, the Wuhan Institute of Virology built an archive of genetic information about bat coronaviruses after the 2003 SARS outbreak. That has led to unproven allegations that it may have a link to the original outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan in late 2019. China has strongly denied that possibility. Following two weeks in quarantine, the WHO team—which includes experts in veterinary medicine, virology, food safety and epidemiology from 10 nations—has visited hospitals, research institutes, and a market linked to many of the first cases. Their visit followed months of negotiations as China seeks to retain tight control over information about the outbreak and the investigation into its origins, in what some have seen as an attempt to avoid blame for any missteps in its early response.
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