The World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided to send a group of scientists to the Chinese city of Wuhan next month in a bid to find out how the virus originated and started spreading among humans.
According to a report published by the BBC on Thursday, a team of 12 to 15 researchers will go to Wuhan in January 2021.
China had also investigated the origins of the virus on its own to investigate how the disease spread among its population. The country has now agreed to give global experts access to all the preliminary samples it collected, the report said.
WHO experts will also visit the exotic meat markets in Wuhan to interview vendors. The virus is thought to have originated from these markets, the report added.
Per the report, China had been reluctant to allow an independent investigation into the matter. It took the WHO several months of negotiations with the Chinese government to get an approval for the probe.
Earlier this year, the United States had accused China of deliberately hiding the initial outbreak of the virus from the world.
A biologist who will be travelling to Wuhan with the WHO delegation next month told the Associated Press news agency that the purpose of the visit is not to “apportion blame but to prevent future outbreaks,” the report said.
“It’s really not about finding a guilty country,” Fabian Leendertz of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute said. “It’s about trying to understand what happened and then see if, based on those data, we can try to reduce the risk in the future.”
He added that the mission is expected to last four or five weeks.