Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), has accused Chinese authorities of delaying a planned visit by a team of experts to the country.
Ghebreyesus said he is “very disappointed” that China is delaying the visit to Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus emerged over a year ago.
The experts from across the world are expected to examine the origin of the virus in the Chinese town.
But addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Ghebreyesus said Chinese officials have not finalised permissions for the arrival of the team of experts into the country to examine origins of COVID-19.
“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” he was quoted to have said.
“I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials.”
The WHO DG added he had earlier been “assured that China is speeding up the internal procedures for the earliest possible deployment” for the visit which he said was a priority for the organisation. “We are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible,” he added.
The reported delay re-echoes the events that played out in early January after the emergence of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan.
Although China first reported the virus to the WHO on December 31, 2019, the Asian country has been accused of not acting fast and withholding information about the health emergency.