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The World Health Organization (WHO) team of 13 experts is set to start its field visits and conduct investigations into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic as it will technically complete its 14 days quarantine on 28th January in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which last year was the epicenter of the global COVID-19 outbreak but now, largely returned to normal.

Whole world will be looking at the team's work as they try to unravel how the virus first emerged in late 2019 especially after the investigation was delayed several times and finally the team landed in Wuhan after a full year passed. Over the past two weeks, the team has been interacting with each other and Chinese scientists through video calls. 

A WHO team first visited China in February 2020 and found that key knowledge gaps remain about the virus, though it said that the COVID-19 virus appeared to have zoonotic origin, with the likely first outbreak at a seafood market in Wuhan. Last week, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response said that both WHO and China could have acted faster and more forcefully to contain the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Several countries, most vocally the United States and Australia, have accused Beijing of downplaying the outbreak's severity during its early stages, and preventing an effective response until it was too late. WHO was also severely criticized by the then-US President Donald Trump for behaving pro-China. 

As China has got the pandemic under control domestically, as compared to the situation in the US and much of Europe, Beijing has begun to reject any accusations and advancing alternate theories about the origin of the pandemic. 

In Geneva last week, the head of the US delegation to WHO called on China to allow the team in Wuhan access to 'care givers, former patients and lab workers,' and to share all scientific studies into animal, human and environmental samples taken from a market in Wuhan.



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