China has blocked the arrival of a World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Two scientists on the United Nations team had already left their home countries for Wuhan when they were told that Chinese officials had not approved the necessary permissions to enter the country. “I am very disappointed with this news,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesustold a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday. Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program said there was an issue with visas and one team member had already returned home. The other was waiting in transit in a third country.
In a press briefing Wednesday, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, said China had “always held an open, transparent and responsible attitude” on tracing the origin of the virus. “In order to ensure that the international expert group that comes to China can work smoothly, it is needed to fulfill the necessary procedures and make relevant specific arrangements. The two sides are still negotiating about this,” said Hua. The US has demanded transparency in WHO operations in China.