Jan 29, 2021 - World

WHO team visits China hospital that treated first COVID-19 patients

Picture taken from the side of a car with its windows down, two men sit inside of the car, they are two of the members of the WHO team investigating the origin of the coronavirus
Members of the WHO team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

A World Health Organization team of researchers on Friday visited a hospital in Wuhan where China says some of the first coronavirus patients were treated, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday marks the first in-person day of the team's investigation into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, almost a year since the first cases were reported.

  • The WHO team spent two weeks in quarantine since their arrival in China on Jan. 14. They will spend an additional two weeks in the country, according to Reuters.

The big picture: The team had its first face-to-face meeting on Friday with Chinese scientists at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine.

  • China state media disclosed that the hospital was the first to report coronavirus cases, "after treating an elderly couple in late 2019 whose CT scans showed differences from typical pneumonia," Reuters writes.

What's next: The team requested some "detailed underlying data" from Chinese scientists and is expected to meet with early responders and some of the first coronavirus patients.

Worth noting: "Confirmation of the origins of the virus is likely to take years. Pinning down an outbreak’s animal source typically requires exhaustive research including taking animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies," AP writes.

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