The head of the World Health Organization has expressed disappointment after a team of international experts were not granted entry to China.
The WHO has made arrangements to dispatch an investigation team to China this week to examine the origins of the coronavirus and what happened during the early stages of the outbreak in the country.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Tuesday that two members of the team had already set out on their journeys to China, but Chinese officials had not finalized the necessary permissions for their entry.
Tedros said, "I'm very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute."
He said that he had strongly urged Chinese officials to ensure the team's smooth entry into their country so that the mission can get underway as soon as possible.
The WHO's emergencies chief, Michael Ryan, said that one of the two experts has already turned back and the other is in transit in a third country.
Last month, Peter Ben Embarek, who leads the WHO's investigative team, told NHK that it's logical to think the coronavirus originated in China, because it resembles a virus detected in the Chinese province of Yunnan in 2013.