A team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts investigating the origins of Covid-19 on Sunday went to a market in Wuhan where one of the first reported clusters of infections emerged over a year ago, with one member tweeting the visit was “critical” to understanding the virus.
Members of the group arrived at Huanan seafood market – which has been sealed since January last year – driving into its barricaded premises as guards quickly blocked others from entering, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
The mission, delayed by China and weighed down by political baggage, has a remit to explore how the virus jumped from animal to human.
But with the fieldwork element of the trip in its early stages, WHO officials have already played down expectations of finding the source of a virus which has killed over two million people and devastated the global economy.
On Sunday, the WHO team visited Huanan market and another wholesale one, as part of a long-planned trip closely monitored by the Chinese authorities.
Team member Peter Daszak described the tours on Twitter as “very important site visits”, adding that the team had “met with key staff at both markets and asked questions to help better understand the factors involved in the emergence of Covid”.
Also read: WHO team in Wuhan to visit provincial CDC on Monday
Despite the fact that over a year has elapsed since the outbreak there, Daszak said speaking to staff and seeing the layout of the Huanan market was “very informative”.
The visits were “critical for our joint teams to understand the epidemiology of Covid as it started to spread at the end of 2019”, he said in another tweet.
Lawmaker tests +ve even after 2nd vaccine shot
In a disturbing development in the fight against the coronavirus, US Representative Stephen Lynch has tested positive for Covid-19 even after receiving his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – at least the second lawmaker to contract the virus after getting both shots.
The Massachusetts Democrat “received a positive test result for Covid-19 after a staff member in the Congressman’s Boston office had tested positive earlier in the week”, his spokeswoman, Molly Rose Tarpey, said in a statement Friday.
Meanwhile in Australia, the city of Perth was set to begin a five-day hard lockdown after a security guard at a quarantine hotel tested positive for Covid-19, authorities said on Sunday.
Around two million residents must stay at home as of Sunday evening, as will those living in the nearby Peel and South West regions. A return of schools on Monday will be delayed, with locals permitted to leave their homes for exercise, medical care and essential work.
The new rules follow the first case of community transmission in Western Australia state for 10 months, officials said.
Authorities believe the man contracted the virus from a returning traveller quarantining in a hotel in the city. The traveller is thought to have picked up a UK variant of the virus believed to be more infectious than Covid-19 strains previously detected in Australia.