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WHO investigators probing origins of Covid-19 pandemic visit Huanan food market in Chinese city of Wuhan where the coronavirus was first detected

 WHO investigators have visited the Huanan wet market in Wuhan where Covid-19 was first detected as they continue to probe the origins of the deadly virus. 

The team of experts arrived at Huanan on Sunday afternoon amid a heavy security presence, with additional barricades set up outside a high blue fence surrounding the market.

They did not respond to questions thrown at them by reporters gathered at the entrance as their convoy drove into the market. 

A worker in protective overall disinfects a vehicle from the World Health Organization convoy while they were visiting the Huanan market in Wuhan on Sunday

A worker in protective overall disinfects a vehicle from the World Health Organization convoy while they were visiting the Huanan market in Wuhan on Sunday

WHO investigator Peter Ben Embarek and his team of experts arrived at Huanan on Sunday afternoon amid a heavy security presence

WHO investigator Peter Ben Embarek and his team of experts arrived at Huanan on Sunday afternoon amid a heavy security presence

WHO team leave Wuhan wet market after visit for Covid investigation
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The barricades came down as soon as the investigators had entered the market.


Public access to the market 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.


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.

A plainclothes security person uses his umbrella to block journalists from filming as the WHO team entered the market

A plainclothes security person uses his umbrella to block journalists from filming as the WHO team entered the market

On December 31, 2019, after four cases of a mystery pneumonia were linked to the market, it was shuttered overnight. By the end of January, Wuhan had gone into a 76-day lockdown.

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.

Following a two-week quarantine in the city that ended on Thursday, the WHO team is expected to visit laboratories, markets and hospitals in Wuhan.

No exact itinerary has not been announced, but the WHO has said the team plans to visit Huanan market and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Public access to the market has been severely restricted since it was shut at the beginning of last year

Public access to the market has been severely restricted since it was shut at the beginning of last year

Following a two-week quarantine in the city that ended on Thursday, the WHO team is expected to visit laboratories, markets and hospitals in Wuhan

Following a two-week quarantine in the city that ended on Thursday, the WHO team is expected to visit laboratories, markets and hospitals in Wuhan

The WHO-led probe in Wuhan has been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between China and the United States, which accused China of hiding the extent of the initial outbreak and criticised the terms of the visit, under which Chinese experts conducted the first phase of research.

The team had been set to arrive in Wuhan earlier in January, and China's delay of their visit drew rare public criticism from the head of the WHO, which former U.S. President Donald Trump accused of being 'China-centric'.

On Saturday, the WHO team was given a tour of an exhibition that celebrates China's response to the pandemic.

The WHO-led probe in Wuhan has been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between China and the United States

The WHO-led probe in Wuhan has been plagued by delays, concern over access and bickering between China and the United States

The visit to a show that critics say offers little more than propaganda will not reassure those who fear WHO is too close to Beijing and that its probe into the coronavirus outbreak will be a whitewash.

The trip came after WHO experts went to a hospital in Wuhan where some of the earliest coronavirus patients were treated and took place a day after they had their first face-to-face meeting with Chinese scientists.

Amid suspicion of a Chinese cover-up, WHO insisted in a tweet: 'All hypotheses are on the table as the team follows the science in their work to understand the origins of the Covid-19 virus.' 

The team from the World Health Organisation was shown around an exhibition celebrating China's response to the crisis on Saturday

 

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