Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has urged the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to grant the World Health Organisation (WHO) team investigating the origins to the COVID-19 pandemic access to China.
It follows reports from the WHO that Chinese officials are yet to finalize the necessary permissions for the group of specialists to enter as expected this week.
Payne said the Australian government had consistently sought transparency in relation to the origins of, and responses to the coronavirus. She also noted that the government hoped that the approvals needed for the WHO team’s travel to China could be issued “without delay”, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported.
“The WHO-convened scientific study is an important part of this work, and we look forward to the findings from the international field mission to China,” Payne said in a statement.
Sydney-based virologist, Professor Dominic Dwyer, and 9 other health experts were due to commence a fortnight of quarantine in China before travelling to Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated where they would study documents from their Chinese counterparts.
Australia has been a vocal proponent of an inquiry into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, (novel coronavirus) with Payne calling for an independent inquiry at the start of the global pandemic.
In May, 2020 Australia supported the European-led resolution at the United Nations to investigate the origins of the CCP virus, along with 137 other countries, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The Australian Labor Party has also supported the Morrison government’s push for the global COVID-19 inquiry.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the whole world needs this investigation to happen, not just Australia.
He agreed with Payne’s comments that it should happen “openly and transparently,” Albanese told Sky News, “And that should be facilitated by China.”
In November WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris said due to travel restrictions the first meeting into the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 would be handled virtually.
Which was five months after WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pledged, at the “earliest appropriate moment” he would initiate a probe.
Speaking at the first press conference of the year Tedros said this is a priority, “We are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible,” after saying that he was very disappointed and the delay.
Especially as “two members had already begun their journeys [and] others were not able to travel at the last minute.” he said in a statement.
The rare public rebuke comes in the midst of criticism that the WHO and Tedros improperly defended the CCP’s handling of the outbreak in early 2020.