01/28/2021, 15.48
CHINA
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Wuhan, Covid-19: victims' families ask to meet WHO

Investigators arrived two weeks ago. Ready to interview infected patients, nurses and laboratory technicians. Request to access the data on the city market where the virus is supposed to have first spread. The government silences citizens who want to speak to the team of experts. Beijing halts travel for the Lunar New Year.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The families of the victims of Covid-19 in Wuhan are demanding to meet the World Health Organization investigative team. The Chinese government is opposing the request: a further obstacle to the progress of the international mission.

Today the two weeks of quarantine for WHO experts called to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic end. Investigators arrived on January 14 in Wuhan, where the virus first appeared. They are now ready to interview infected patients, nurses and laboratory technicians, as well as examine all the scientific data on human, animal and environmental samples taken from the market in the capital of Hubei, the supposed epicentre of the contagion.

The mission was approved in May by the WHO Assembly. China boycotted it for months, repeatedly contesting the choice of the team of experts. During their quarantine, the team members spoke via the web with their Chinese colleagues, who conducted the first part of the research.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020, the WHO has often been accused of covering up for China, accused by many of having lied about the spread of the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump termed Tedros a "puppet" in the hands of Beijing.

He was accused of collusion with the Chinese authorities in lying and delaying the declaration on human-to-human transmissibility of the virus, on the declaration of world emergency, accepting that his experts did not go to Wuhan at the beginning of the pandemic.

Several observers doubt that the Chinese government will fully cooperate with WHO experts. Two days after the investigators arrived in China, the Chinese government banned a group of family members of people who died in Wuhan from Covid-19: some of them have since been placed under surveillance. Using social media, they asked to be able to meet the WHO delegation to describe what happened to their loved ones.

Zhang Hai, one of the members of the group, denounced that the "success" of the authorities in containing the pandemic has been achieved at the cost of "inhuman" lockdowns. Beijing claims to have had just over 89 thousand cases of contagion and 4,636 deaths: much less than those recorded in Europe and the United States. However, there are now new outbreaks of infection in the country: in the capital, for example, the situation is defined as "complex".

The authorities seem concerned. This is evidenced by the restrictive measures taken for the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on February 12. Millions of Chinese will not be able to visit relatives: traditionally people travel to their places of origin during this holiday season. Since yesterday the government has "advised" the population to stay in their homes; flights and trains have been cancelled and localized lockdowns have been adopted in many provinces.

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