Speed Reads

'very disappointed'

WHO says China has delayed process for allowing team in to investigate COVID-19's origins

The World Health Organization's director-general is expressing disappointment as he says Chinese officials have delayed allowing experts in to examine the coronavirus' origins.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a news conference on Tuesday said that although members of a team of scientists tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19 began departing for China from their home countries within the last 24 hours, "today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team's arrival in China," The Associated Press reports.

"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," he said.

The World Health Organization previously announced that an international team of scientists would travel to Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first identified, for this investigation in January, BBC News reports. Following Tedros' comments critical of China, Axios's Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian' wrote that it was notable he "would choose to finally speak out against China's last-minute foot-dragging" after Chinese officials previously delayed agreeing to WHO being involved in such an investigation in "an almost absurdly lengthy delay" of almost a year. The AP also noted that this was a "rare critique of Beijing" from the head of WHO.

Tedros also said Tuesday, however, that he has been "assured that China is speeding up the internal procedures for the earliest possible deployment," adding that "we are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible."