The World Health Organization (WHO) will send experts to China on Thursday and work with Chinese peers to investigate the origin of COVID-19, said China's National Health Commission (NHC).
The details of the group's itinerary have not been publicized. But Chinese health officials advanced that they would go together with the WHO team to Wuhan province to launch an investigation of the virus' origin.
This arrangement indicates that China has always been open, supportive and positive toward the WHO's investigations, Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Beijng University First Hospital, said.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the WHO's visit to China at a press conference on Monday. Zhao noted since the COVID-19 outbreak, China, in an open, transparent and responsible manner, has maintained close communication and cooperation with the WHO on the origin tracing probe.
Zhao said that the tracing of the coronavirus' origin is likely to involve multiple countries with more and deepened understanding of the virus and more cases detected in the very early stage of the outbreak.
Zhao underlined that WHO will need to conduct similar investigations in other countries and regions. The tracing probe is based on science, which should be carried out by global scientists.
China is ready to continue its close cooperation with the WHO and international medical experts in this regard and contribute to the global tracing probe, Zhao said.
We welcome China's announcement regarding the international team examining the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19. We look forward to working closely with our counterparts on this critical mission to identify the virus source and its route of introduction to the human population, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted on Monday from Geneva.
The investigation will not be completed overnight, and it requires the cooperation of all countries, Wang noted, and China, the first country to identify the virus, takes the responsibility in assisting the WHO to carry out investigations.