An expert mission to China to find the origins of the coronavirus pandemic stumbled before it even began, with the head of the World Health Organization complaining that Beijing was blocking the team from entering the country.
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” with the last-minute bar on entry, in a rare castigation of Beijing from the UN body.
A 10-strong team was due to arrive in China this week after months of painstaking negotiations.
Beijing is determined to control the origin story of the virus, which has killed more than 1.8 million people so far and laid waste to global economies.
The first cases of the coronavirus were recorded in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, prompting accusations of chaotic, secretive handling by Chinese authorities which led to its spread beyond China.