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Covid: WHO China investigation team emerges from Wuhan quarantine

A World Health Organization (WHO) team has come out of quarantine and will start on-the-ground investigations into the origins of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The scientists will begin interviewing people from research institutes, hospitals and the seafood market linked to the initial outbreak.

Their research will rely upon evidence provided by Chinese officials.

This comes after months of negotiations between the WHO and Beijing.

Some relatives of Covid-19 victims in China are hoping to meet with the investigators. Zhang Hai, a Wuhan native whose father died in February, told the BBC he hopes speaking to the WHO can “aid their investigation”.

The group of 13 experts arrived in Wuhan on 14 January, and spent two weeks in quarantine that ended on Thursday. While in isolation, the team had been in video calls with each other and Chinese scientists.

On Thursday afternoon they exited their hotel and boarded a bus without speaking to journalists. Earlier in the day members of the team tweeted about the end of their quarantine, including pictures of themselves receiving letters certifying they had completed medical isolation.

“New phase, new priorities,” tweeted Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans.

Thea Fischer, a Danish member of the investigative team, told Reuters news agency that going outside after going into quarantine “is like someone has landed from the moon.” every time they knocked on the door, the other two also came out and took the temperature so you could at least exchange a few words and see the man, ”she said on Thursday. WHO had said his investigators were denied entry to China after one team member was turned back and another was stuck in transit. Beijing later said it was a misunderstanding. Covid-19 was first detected in Wuhan at the end of 2019, but China has been saying for months that this isn’t necessarily where the virus came from. State media has recently suggested that the pandemic may have started outside of China – Spain, Italy, and even the US – and also reported that the virus was entering the country via frozen food imports, although experts have doubts about it.

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