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Wuhan: Two WHO team members barred from entering China over failed coronavirus antibody test

IgM antibodies are among the earliest potential signs of coronavirus infection, but they can also occur in someone who has been vaccinated or previously infected (but no longer a carrier) of the virus. False positive results are also possible in such tests.

From November 2020, travelers to China must show negative results for an IgM antibody test and a PCR test before they are allowed to enter.

The scientists in question have been retested and previously tested and found negative for coronavirus repeatedly, the organization said, adding that those scientists who were able to travel to China “will begin their work immediately during the two-week quarantine period.”

; Protocol on International Passengers. ”

At a regular press conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang said the country “will strictly follow the relevant provisions and requirements for epidemic prevention and will provide appropriate support and funds for WHO experts coming to China to carry out international cooperation.” to trace the origin of the virus. “

Asked about the refusal of the two scientists to enter, Zhao did not comment, instructing reports to ask “the relevant authorities.”

State television operator CGTN said Thursday that the WHO team “did throat swabs and serum antibody tests” at the airport upon arrival in the country.

Health workers stand next to buses in a fenced area where arriving passengers are to be quarantined at Wuhan International Airport, China on January 14, 2021, following the arrival of a World Health Organization (WHO) team originating from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Delayed travel

This is the second delay for the WHO team, which was due to arrive in China earlier this month but was blocked from flying there by authorities, sparking rare criticism from the UN agency.

“I am very disappointed with this news,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreesus. “I was in contact with senior Chinese officials and 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 launch the mission as soon as possible” and that he had received assurances that Beijing was speeding up the internal procedure for “deployment as soon as possible”.

This deployment began this week as most of the team arrived in Wuhan, although they will be limited in what they can do when they complete a mandatory two-week quarantine.

Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist who heads the virology department at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and is part of an investigation team heading to China, said earlier this month that they were “ready to go.”

Koopmans said they were told nothing was out of bounds while in China, and said the team would work with their Chinese counterparts, “looking at the data, talking to people with experience and drawing conclusions from what has been done. what can be built on. “

She said it was important to understand the origins of how the virus jumped on people, because “there is no country that does not risk developing a disease. This is something we need to understand so that the whole world can prepare . “

“We really have to be patient and not judge. This is meticulous work, it will take time,” Coopmans said.

Political tension

The United States and Australia have filed charges, criticizing China’s behavior in the early stages of the pandemic, accusing Beijing of downplaying its severity and preventing an effective response until too late.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed China for the global pandemic and announced that the United States would end its relations with the WHO, saying China had not properly communicated information about the coronavirus and had pressured the WHO to “mislead the world.”
The United States has called for transparency in WHO operations in China. In November, Gareth Griggsby of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the WHO meeting that the terms of the investigation against China “were not agreed in a transparent manner” and “the investigation itself seems incompatible” with his mandate.
Numerous confidential documents obtained by CNN last year from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Hubei Province – where the virus was first detected in 2019 – show how the Chinese authorities give the world more optimistic data than they have internal access, taking into account the case numbers during the early stages of the outbreak.
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As countries around the world struggle with new waves and outbreaks of infections, China appears to be recovering. Last month, the country reported positive economic growth for the second consecutive quarter.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised China’s anti-pandemic efforts at home and abroad, saying the country was “launching an emergency global humanitarian campaign” and “helping to reach a consensus on the global response to Covid-19.”

As the WHO team prepares to intervene, Chinese officials and state media are questioning the origins of the virus, with Wang himself claiming that “more and more research shows that the pandemic may have been caused by outbreaks in many parts of the world.”

CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to the reporting

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