World Health Organization officials have renewed praise for China in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, citing its “openness” to the prospect of scientific inquiries involving foreign experts into the origins of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, pointed to “day-to-day” discussions with colleagues in China. He said the U.N. health agency and many governments are eager to understand the animal origins of the virus, “and I am very pleased to hear a very consistent message coming from China, which is one of openness to such an approach.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the WHO leadership, once calling it a “pipe organ” for China in the handling of the outbreak. He has also pointed to unspecified intelligence suggesting the virus originated in a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan, a claim denied by lab officials.
At a Geneva news conference Monday, Ryan said he didn’t believe a date had been set for an international mission to be sent to China to explore the origin of the virus, “but we look forward to doing that as soon as possible.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted an agreement with China was struck in February into having international experts visit the country. That has not happened yet.