WUHAN, China (AP) — A global team of researchers has arrived in the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic was first detected to investigate its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries.
The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling that prompted an unusual public complaint by the head of WHO.
Scientists suspect the virus that has killed more than 1.9 million people since late 2019 jumped to humans from bats or other animals.
Beijing, stung by accusations it allowed the disease to spread, suggests the virus came from abroad, but foreign scientists say that is unlikely.
Last week marked one year since WHO announced the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan. And, Monday marked one year since Chinese state media reported the first known death from COVID-19 in the Asian country. China said it was a 61-year-old man.
Since the coronavirus began to spread to different countries early last year, more than 92 million people have tested positive for the virus worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States continues to lead the world in cases and deaths, with the tally showing more than 23 million cases confirmed across the nation and about 384,794 deaths as of Thursday morning.