WHO team for virus probe arrives in Wuhan

A team of international experts sent by the World Health Organization has arrived in the Chinese city of Wuhan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus and what happened in the early stages of the pandemic.

Thirteen scientists and officials arrived at an airport in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, on Thursday. The city is the initial epicenter of the outbreak.

After a 14-day quarantine, the experts are to start their investigation. Details of their itinerary have not been made public.

More than one year has passed since the first coronavirus cases were reported in Wuhan. But where the virus came from and how it was transmitted to humans remain unknown.

Chinese government experts initially said the virus came from bats in China. But they later began to say they cannot rule out the possibility that it was brought in from abroad because the virus has been detected in some imported foods.

A senior WHO expert who leads the team, Peter Ben Embarek, told NHK last month that it is logical to think the virus originated in China.

He said the team will investigate the initial cases in Wuhan in detail and try to find out if there were early cases in other areas as well.

It remains unknown whether China's government will fully comply with the team's research requests. It also remains to be seen whether Beijing will allow the team to probe a Wuhan institute from which US President Donald Trump says the virus may have leaked.

The WHO says two other experts who were to have joined the Wuhan mission remain in Singapore after testing positive for coronavirus antibodies. They were in Singapore for transit.