COVID-19: WHO investigators visit 2 hospitals in Wuhan, China

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Jan. 30 (UPI) — World Health Organization investigators have visited two hospitals at the center of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, on mission to determine origin of the virus.

A team of 13 experts met with medics at Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital on its second day of investigating the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the South China Morning Post reported. They then visited the Hubei Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, where Zhang Jixian has been credited as being the first doctor to report the novel coronavirus in December 2019.

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The hospital visits were part of the second day of fieldwork that began with experts meeting Chinese scientists Friday to discuss plans to visit laboratories, markets and hospitals.

Second “day on-the-ground in Wuhan meeting w/ leaders & staff at the famous Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital that treated large numbers of severe COVID cases early in the outbreak,” tweeted Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology and president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance Peter Daszak.

“Important opportunity to talk directly w/ medics who were on the ground at that critical time fighting COVID!”

The team also held virtual meetings with Chinese scientists during a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving in Wuhan on Jan. 14, which it completed on Thursday, according to the WHO. The team is also expected to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and Wuhan’s CDC lab.

“All hypotheses are on the table as the team follows the science in their work to understand the origins of the COVID-19 virus,” a WHO COVID-19 origins mission update said.

China has had 99,876 cases and 4,814 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University global tracker.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced in a tweet that the country’s border will be closed to all countries outside the European Union from midnight Sunday “except for compelling reasons,” to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Unless they are commuters, people entering from inside the EU will need to show a negative COVID-19 test.

“However, I can confirm that this [border closure] does NOT apply to hauliers, so trade will continue to flow smoothly,” British Transport Secretary Grant Schapps tweeted regarding Castex’s announcement.

Castex added in a tweet that as of Sunday, large, non-grocery shopping centers will be closed.

In another tweet, the prime minister also announced increased enforcement against violations of France’s 12-hour a day curfew, or other COVID-19 restrictions against secret parties and opening of restaurants.

France has over 3.2 million COVID-19 case and 75,765 COVID-19 deaths, according to the global tracker.

In Colombia, President Ivan Duque announced Friday in a televised address to the nation the country will start mass COVID-19 vaccinations on Feb. 20.

Colombia has reported over 2 million cases and over 53,284 deaths, according to the global tracker.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected over 102.25 million people and killed over 2.2 million.