WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said two scientists on the United Nations team were told mid-trip to Wuhan that the Chinese government had not approved their entry into the country where the raging pandemic first broke out.
The arrangements for the probe had earlier been jointly agreed with China, Peoples Gazette learnt.
The WHO chief expressed his disappointment over the development after Beijing had initially given assurances for “the earliest possible deployment.”
“I am very disappointed with this news,” Mr. Tedros told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday. “I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”
The world public health body has been in talks with China for months to allow for an investigative team to unravel the origins and possible causes of the pandemic that has ravaged the globe for a year.
WHO’s team of global scientists were seeking access to key sites in Wuhan where the virus was first detected in December 2019.
In May 2020, more than 100 countries had signed a resolution calling for an independent probe into the origins of the pandemic, forcing the WHO to undertake an inquiry.
China has been widely blamed for the outbreak of the disease.
The U.S. and Australia have been vociferous in criticising China’s handling of the pandemic at the initial stages. They accused Beijing of hiding facts and downplaying the severity of the virus until it was too late.
US President Donald Trump has constantly blamed China for the global pandemic and also had brushes with WHO leadership for kowtowing to China to “mislead the world” by not properly reporting information it had about the coronavirus.
The Chinese government has however, always rejected allegations by the US and other Western governments that it deliberately concealed information relating to the virus.
The country’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, told Reuters on Monday that Beijing would welcome the WHO team.