WHO experts said the delay in a long-planned mission to China to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic is “not just a visa issue,” Beijing said Wednesday.
A year after the outbreak began, international health experts were expected to arrive in China this week for a very political visit to explore the beginnings of the virus that first appeared in Wuhan city last year.
Sensitive missions engulfed delays and politics, fearing Beijing’s whitewash.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters Wednesday that talks between the two sides were continuing on “a specific date and specific arrangement of the visit to the expert group.”
“The origin tracking problem is incredibly complex. To ensure that the work of our international team of experts in China runs smoothly, we must carry out the necessary procedures and take relevant measures,” Hua said.
She said China “is committed to creating good conditions for an international group of experts to come to China.”
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday told reporters that Beijing had not yet approved the team’s arrival, saying Beijing was “very disappointed with the news” due to rare accusations against Beijing from UN agencies.
Earlier this week, Chinese authorities refused to confirm the exact date and details of the visit, a sign of the mission’s continued sensitivity.
The WHO has previously stated that China has allowed a team of 10 to visit.
Hua said that China “is attaching great importance and is actively communicating with WHO”.