PARIS -- The head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday he was "very disappointed" that China has held up a team of experts from entering the country to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Today we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team's arrival in China," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. "I'm very disappointed with this news."
An international team of 10-plus investigators was expected to travel this week to China for the mission. Tedros added he has been in contact with senior Chinese officials, who assured him the procedures have been speeded up.
"I have once again made it clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team."
"We trust and we hope that this is just a logistic and bureaucratic issue that can be resolved very quickly," said Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.
The team of experts are due to arrive in the city of Wuhan, where a major outbreak occurred over a year ago. They will look for clues connecting to the origin of the virus as well as the routes the infections took. The findings will help improve the response to the next pandemic.
WHO sent a small team to China in July which conducted a preliminary investigation.