China says delay in WHO investigation of virus ‘not just a visa issue’

China says delay in WHO investigation of virus ‘not just a visa issue’

Chinese foreign ministry says talks ongoing about dates and timings of sensitive visit

Delays to a long-planned mission by WHO experts to China to investigate the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic are “not just a visa issue”, Beijing said Wednesday.

A year after the outbreak started, international health experts were expected to arrive in China this week for a highly politicised visit to explore the beginnings of the virus, which first emerged late last year in the city of Wuhan.

The sensitive mission has been beset by delays and politics, with fears of a whitewash by Beijing.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Wednesday that talks were continuing between the two sides over “the specific date and specific arrangement of the expert group’s visit”.

“The issue of origin-tracing is incredibly complicated. To ensure the work of the international expert team in China goes smoothly, we have to carry out necessary procedures and make relevant arrangements,” said Hua.