WHO to send experts to China to study virus

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi jinping before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 28, 2020. (AFP)

The World Health Organization on Tuesday said it would send international experts to China “as soon as possible” to help inform the global response against a deadly virus outbreak.

China and the WHO agreed the experts will “work with Chinese counterparts on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts,” WHO said in a statement.

The agreement follows talks in Beijing between WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO’s highest priority,” Tedros said, praising the “seriousness” of China’s response to the outbreak.

The two also agreed that China would share biological material with WHO, the agency said, underlining the importance of continued data sharing and further studies.

“These measures will advance scientific understanding of the virus and contribute to the development of medical countermeasures such as vaccines and treatments,” it said.

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A WHO team earlier this month visited Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the epicenter of the outbreak.

The SARS-like virus, which has killed more than 100 people, has infected thousands in China and reached more than a dozen other countries.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Some experts have praised Beijing for being more reactive and open about this crisis compared to SARS.

But others say local cadres were more focused on projecting stability earlier in January than adequately responding to the outbreak during regional political meetings.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57
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