WHO visit Wuhan propaganda exhibit boasting how China beat virus

WHO Covid experts visit Wuhan propaganda exhibit boasting how China beat virus after trip to hospital that treated world’s first cases as they probe origins of pandemic

  • World Health Organisation experts went to an exhibit in Wuhan this afternoon 
  • It praises emergency response of local authorities and Communist leadership 
  • Group also attended Jinyintan Hospital which had first confirmed Covid cases

World Health Organisation experts tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus toured a Wuhan propaganda exhibition celebrating China’s recovery from the pandemic today. 

The group also had a meeting at the hospital where the first confirmed Covid-19 cases were treated over a year ago.    

Details of the trip have been scant so far, with the media kept at arm’s length and information on the itinerary dribbling out via tweets from the WHO experts instead of China’s tight-lipped Communist authorities.

The experts from the World Health Organisation who are tasked with investigating the origins of Covid-19 visited a propaganda exhibit in Wuhan today. Pictured: Experts visiting the exhibition

One of their outings today saw them visiting the first hospital to received confirmed coronavirus patients in 2019. Pictured: WHO experts leave their hotel 

The group was driven to the Jinyintan Hospital, the first to receive officially diagnosed Covid-19 patients in late 2019, as the horrors of the virus emerged in the central Chinese city.

In a tweet, team member Peter Daszak welcomed the hospital visit as an ‘important opportunity to talk directly with medics who were on the ground at that critical time fighting Covid.’

This afternoon the team visited a cavernous exhibition that applauds the emergency response of Wuhan health authorities in the chaotic, terrifying early stages of the outbreak. 

It also praises the agility of the Communist leadership in controlling a crisis without precedent.

The WHO mission comes with heavy political baggage – China refused the team access until mid-January and there are question marks over what the experts can hope to find a year after the virus first emerged.

Yesterday the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan sought to manage expectations.

The group were taken to Jinyintan Hospital, the first to receive officially diagnosed Covid-19 patients in late 2019. Pictured: WHO expert Peter Ben Embarek leaving the hospital

Very little information about the trip has been released so far, with the odd tweet from members WHO. Pictured: Thea Fischer and Peter Ben Embarek outside the hospital

A security officer stood outside Jinyintan Hospital when the team of the World Health Organisation experts entered its compound in Wuhan, Hubei

Success ‘is not measured necessarily in absolutely finding a source on the first mission’, he told a press conference in Geneva.

‘This is a complicated business, but what we need to do is gather all of the data… and come to an assessment as to how much more we know about the origins of the disease and what further studies may be needed to elucidate that.’

Last week, China warned the United States against ‘political interference’ during the trip, after the White House demanded a ‘robust and clear’ investigation.

The WHO insists the probe will stick tightly to the science behind how the virus jumped from animals – believed to be bats – to humans.

Arranging to trip has seen some obstacles, with Chine refusing the team access until mid-January. Pictured: Experts outside the hotel

Peter Daszak (pictured centre, in blue) welcomed the hospital visit as an ‘important opportunity to talk directly with medics who were on the ground at that critical time fighting Covid.’

The exhibition applauds the emergency response of Wuhan health authorities in the early stages of the outbreak. Pictured: WHO experts leave the exhibit

The team is also expected to visit the market believed to have seen the first major cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other labs, in what the WHO’s Ryan described as a ‘very busy, busy schedule’. 

Beijing is desperate to defang criticism of its handling of the chaotic early stages of the outbreak.

It has refocused attention at home – and abroad – on its handling of and recovery from the outbreak.

Since seeping beyond China’s borders, the pandemic has ripped across the world, killing more than two million people and wrecking economies.

Wuhan’s exhibit also praises the agility of the Communist leadership in controlling a crisis without precedent. Pictured: Security officers keep watch as WHO members visit the exhibit

The team (some pictured leaving their hotel) is also expected to visit the market believed to have seen the first major cluster of infections as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology

China, with a relatively low reported death toll of 4,636, has bounced back, and has swiftly locked down areas where cases have been found, tested millions and restricted travel to snuff out the crisis.

The country’s economy grew by 2.3 per cent despite the outbreak last year and its leadership misses few chances to boast of the country’s resilience and renewal.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman on Friday flagged the WHO visit as ‘a part of global research’ into the pandemic.

‘It is not an investigation,’ Zhao Lijian told reporters.

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