The WHO team plans to visit the seafood market at the centre of the early outbreak as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
A World Health Organisation-led team of experts investigating the origins of COVID-19 on Friday visited a hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan that was one of the first to treat patients in the early days of the outbreak.
After meeting with Chinese scientists earlier in the day, the team went to the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine.
Zhang Jixian, director of the hospital’s department of respiratory and critical care, has been cited by state media as the first to report the novel coronavirus, after treating an elderly couple in late 2019 whose CT scans showed differences from typical pneumonia.
The WHO-led team was released from two weeks of quarantine on Thursday. It plans to visit labs, markets and hospitals during its remaining two weeks in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first identified in late 2019.
While an exact itinerary has not been announced, the WHO has said the team plans to visit the seafood market at the centre of the early outbreak as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
One hypothesis, rejected by China, is that the outbreak was caused by a leak at the government lab.
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 WHO has sought to manage expectations. “There are no guarantees of answers,” its emergency chief, Mike Ryan, said this month.
“It is important to remember that the success of this mission and origin-tracing is 100% depending on access to the relevant sources,” Thea Fischer, a Danish member of the team, told Reuters on Thursday.