There will be a mission to Wuhan, mainland China, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), starting in the first week of January 2021. It will be the second of its kind.
On January 11 2020, China officially announced the first person dead, having been infected with the then novel „SARS-CoV-2-virus”, the Corona-virus.
On January 31, 2020, the WHO-mission was completed. In its mission report the WHO attested China „a rapid identification of the virus“. After meeting with Chinese health representatives in Beijing, still in January, the United Nation’s Health Organization declared a „global emergency case“ to the world. On March 11, 2020, it declared Covid-19 “a pandemic“.
One of the new missision’s team members to Wuhan is Fabian Leedertz. He speaks of a „nasty virus“, when he speaks of SARS-CoV-2. Leedertz is a veterinarian from the Robert-Koch-Institut, Germany‘s central body for disease control, and a specialist of zoonotic diseases. Once involved with groundresearch on wild chimpanzees in Côtes d’Ivoire, he also did research on the Ebola virus.
The current WHO-team going to China is made up of ten „eminent scientists“ trying to find out „what has happened without any finger-pointing“. Currently, China counters claims of covering up the initial and chatoic phase of the disease’s outbreak in the late year of 2019.
For scientists concerned with the virus causing Covid-19, bats are under suspicion of being the primary carriers of the virus, while the transmission link between animal and humans is still missing. The disease‘s name came into being in February 2020 and was established by the WHO.
As it does on the whole world, the pandemic also takes its toll on Myanmar.
The country shares a long common border with China and has direct flight connections of 3 hours 40′ to Wuhan.
As a consequence, Myanmar was one of the first countries in the world to be on guard against shielding its population from the obviously contagious disease. On January 9, 2020 – back when most people in the world had probably never heard of Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei – Myanmar introduced preventive measures at all its international airports in Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw. These were meant for passengers being from or going to Wuhan. It also took measures at its seaports. In those days media like the Myanmar Times wrote of a „mysterious pneumonia outbreak“.
Temperature checks or reporting on the quarantine desks of the airports if any symptoms like fever or coughing occurred became mandatory in Myanmar.
As an additional measure, the government booked charter flights for Burmese students fetching them back from Wuhan to Myanmar. The tour guides of Mandalay asked for a travel stop for tourists from China.
Those precautions notwithstanding, today, at the end of the year 2020, most of the population of Myanmar suffers heavily from the impact of the pandemic which has not spared the country.
The most obvious sign of the current economic situation is a spike in poverty due to „unemployment and limited savings“ as The Irrawady‘s writes today. There is hunger among the poorest who haven’t had a lot before and are now left with almost nothing.
So, what the findings of the WHO-mission to Wuhan will turn out, is in question.
The main goal – achieving a certain transparency in tracking the origins of the virus – is an option, but for various reason it is not guaranteed.
Sources: websites of ASEAN Post, Champions of the Earth, eleven Myanmar, The Irrawaddy, The Korea Times, Mizzima, The Myanmar Times, World Health Organization, Xinhuanet