The World Health Organization (WHO)-led a team of experts probing the origins of Covid-19, visited Hunnan market on Sunday, the wholesale seafood centre in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is at the heart of the first coronavirus outbreak.
The team arrived the market, which has been closed since January last year, going through its barricaded premises as guards quickly blocked others from entering and left in a convoy after about an hour, with the group of experts not taking questions from journalists.
The mission which had been delayed by China and slowed down by political intrigues is expected to find out how the virus jumped from animal to human.
Following their release from a 2-week quarantine on Thursday, the team has visited hospitals and markets, as well as an exhibition commemorating Wuhan’s battle with the virus, which included a 76-day lockdown of the city of 11 million.
The WHO officials, which have already downplayed the expectations for the mission, said on Friday that team members would be limited to visits organized by their Chinese hosts and would not have any contact with community members, due to health restrictions.
No full itinerary for the team’s two weeks of fieldwork has been announced, and journalists covering the tightly controlled visit have been kept at a distance from team members.
Public access to the sprawling Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which had hundreds of stalls divided into various sections for meat, seafood and vegetables, has been restricted since it was shut at the beginning of last year.
However, it now stands as a landmark in a city that had been faced with the trauma of being the original epicentre of what is now a pandemic.