China Wary of WHO Investigation on Virus’ Origin

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Wear a mask,” is written on the fence of a construction site in downtown Wuhan on Friday.

An international team of experts from the World Health Organization will begin a full-scale investigation later this month in Wuhan, China, to study how the novel coronavirus originated and spread.

The Chinese government is wary of being held responsible for the spread of the infection, insisting that the origin of the outbreak was not necessarily in China.

Regarding the international investigation team, the Chinese side has stressed that the team’s investigation is not specific to China. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said that the WHO will investigate in other countries and regions as necessary.

State-affiliated media in China began actively reporting on the possibilities of infection from imported food after a mass infection was confirmed in June last year in a Beijing market that handles imported refrigerated and frozen food.

China is also using studies favorable to its own claims of refuting the theory that the coronavirus’ origin is Wuhan, which is supported by the U.S. government and others. One such study is one in which the Italian National Institute of Health announced that the coronavirus was present in northern Italy by Dec. 18, 2019, based on analysis of sewage, although the origin of the virus is unknown.

In the United States, Harvard University estimated that the epidemic had started in Wuhan in August 2019, based on analysis of satellite images of the areas around hospitals in Wuhan and of internet search data in China.

Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, expressed in November last year a negative view of the claim that the novel coronavirus originated outside of China. He said that it is not a good idea to speculate on the origin of a virus without taking into account where cases in humans originated.