WUHAN (CHINA) – The World Health Organization-led team that reached China on Thursday to investigate the origins of COVID-19 will hold virtual meetings with their Chinese hosts from a hotel in China’s Wuhan, where the pandemic first emerged. The meetings will commence from Friday.
Two members of the team is said to have failed the COVID antibody tests in Singapore. They are being re-tested for antibodies.
“Team now undergoing the mandatory 14 days quarantine & being treated very well by our hosts. Work begins today, day 1, in teleconf. mtgs w/ China team,” tweeted team member Peter Daszak, a zoologist.
The boutique hotel where the team members are staying has been cordoned off with tape on Friday, a security personnel stands guard at the entrance.
The team’s arrival in Wuhan came as China is on alert over a resurgence of coronavirus cases in its northeast.
Dominic Dwyer, an Australian virologist on the team, said he and the other scientists were trying to keep away the politics surrounding the trip.
“There’s always politics with this sort of scenario but one of the things that COVID-19 has shown us is if you have good science, you then inform the politics,” he said.
“You want to fill the scientific vaccuum with the answers so that people can make more informed and, therefore, presumably more sensible decisions.”
The team of 15 had all tested negative for the disease prior to leaving their home countries, and underwent further testing while in transit in Singapore.
Dwyer said the itinerary for the rest of the trip is yet to be sorted out but he hoped to visit research institutes, hospitals and the market where the first human cases of the disease were detected in late 2019.
“Getting an understanding of how they (markets) work physically by seeing them is helpful because one’s trying to work out how viruses might have come into the market from outside…and spread within the market, or parts of the market, and then spread to the community,” he said.
The team are not allowed to mingle while in quarantine, so will be holding all meetings virtually.
“It’s in the room for two weeks,” said Dwyer. “The rooms are a good size and they’ve given everyone exercise equipment and meals are delivered,” adding he had some weights, a skipping rope and a yoga mat.