Since November 2020, travelers flying to China must show negative results for an IgM antibody test and a PCR test before they are allowed to enter.
The researchers in question are being tested again and had previously been tested and found negative for coronavirus several times, the organization said, adding that the researchers, who have been able to travel to China, “will begin their work immediately within 2 weeks. the Quarantine Protocol for International Travelers. ”
At a regular press conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the country “will closely follow the relevant epidemic prevention rules and requirements and provide similar support and facilities to WHO experts coming to China to conduct international cooperation on tracing the origins of viruses. “
When asked about the two researchers who were denied entry, Zhao would not comment and instructed reports to ask “the relevant authorities.”
State broadcaster CGTN reported Thursday that the WHO team “underwent both throat swab tests and serum antibody testing at the airport” upon arrival in the country.
“I am very disappointed with this news,” said WHO Director – General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for the WHO and the international team.”
Tedros added that the WHO was “eager to get the mission started as soon as possible” and that he had received assurances that Beijing was speeding up the internal procedure for “the earliest possible deployment.”
This deployment began this week when the majority of the team arrived in Wuhan, though they will be limited in what they can do once they complete a mandatory two-week quarantine.
Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist who heads Erasmus Medical Center’s virology department in Rotterdam and is part of the investigation team on its way to China, said earlier this month that they were “ready to go.”
Koopmans said they have been told that there are no borders while in China, and said the team will work in collaboration with their Chinese counterparts “to look at the data, talk to people with expertise and conclude what what has been done and what can be built on. “
She said it was important to understand the origins of how the virus created the leap in humans because there is “no country that is not at risk of disease outbreaks. It is something we need to understand so the whole world can prepare.”
“We really have to have patience and not judge. It’s careful work, it’s going to take time,” Koopmans said.
The United States and Australia have led the charge in criticizing China’s handling of the initial stages of the pandemic, accusing Beijing of downplaying its severity and preventing an effective response until too late.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised China’s anti-pandemic efforts at home and abroad, saying the country “launched a humanitarian humanitarian emergency campaign” and “helped build consensus on a global response to Covid-19.”
CNN’s Beijing bureau provided reporting.