HONG KONG – Two members of the World Health Organization’s coronavirus mission in China failed to clear health screening procedures in Beijing and were blocked from traveling to the country on Thursday, according to sources.
Chinese officials involved in the screening process blocked the two members of the delegation from boarding their plane to the central Chinese city of Wuhan after both tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies in blood serological tests during transit to Singapore, people said. . The rest of the 15-member delegation arrived on Thursday, as planned, in Wuhan, the original center of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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The early attack added further complication to a mission that is already fraught with political sensitivity, as Beijing has waged a broad campaign to question the origin of the pathogen, first discovered in central China. The WHO and Beijing have spent months negotiating the terms of the mission, which has been postponed several times, and UN agency researchers say they do not have a clear understanding of the progress made by Chinese scientists in what should be a joint effort.
Chinese state media reported the arrival of the WHO delegation in Wuhan on Thursday, without giving details of its composition.
Two members of the WHO delegation detained in Singapore tested negative for Covid-19 in swab tests, people familiar with the matter said.
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Serological tests that test blood samples are designed to find out if people have previously been infected with the coronavirus and have developed antibodies to it. Diagnostic swab tests are designed to determine if someone is currently infected with Covid-19.
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