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WHO experts visit Wuhan food market in search of coronavirus origin

The members, with expertise in veterinarian, virology, food safety and epidemiology, have so far visited two hospitals at the center of the early outbreak — Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital and the Hubei Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine Hospital.

WHO experts visit Wuhan food market in search of coronavirus origin-dnm
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Wuhan, First Published Jan 31, 2021, 11:41 AM IST
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Wuhan (China): A World Health Organization team looking into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday visited a market known to be the food distribution center for the Chinese city of Wuhan during the 76-day lockdown last year.

The team members were seen walking through sections of the Baishizhou market — one of the largest wet markets in Wuhan — surrounded by a large entourage of Chinese officials and representatives.

Public access to the market – now barricaded with guards on round-the-clock duty – has been severely restricted since it was shut at the beginning of last year. Before its closure, it was a bustling market comprising hundreds of stalls divided into sections for meat, seafood and vegetables.

The members, with expertise in veterinarian, virology, food safety and epidemiology, have so far visited two hospitals at the center of the early outbreak — Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital and the Hubei Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine Hospital.

On Saturday, they also visited a museum exhibition dedicated to the early history of Covid-19.

Some Chinese diplomats and state media have said they believe the market is not the origin, and have thrown support behind theories that the virus potentially originated in another country.

Experts say the Huanan market still plays a role in tracing the origins of the virus, since the first cluster of cases was identified there.

The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak.

A single visit by scientists is unlikely to confirm the virus’s origins. Pinning down an outbreak’s animal reservoir is typically an exhaustive endeavour that takes years of research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies.

(With inputs from agencies) 

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