Wuhan, Jan 30: A World Health Organization team visited a hospital on Friday where China says the first COVID-19 patients were treated more than a year ago as part of the experts’ long-awaited fact-finding mission on the origins of the coronavirus.

The WHO team members and Chinese officials earlier had their first in-person meetings at a hotel ahead of field visits in and around the central city of Wuhan in the coming days.

“First face to face meeting with our colleagues. Correction: facemask to facemask given the medical restrictions,” Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans tweeted in the morning.

She said they were discussing their programme of visits and Chinese team leader – prof Wannian –  was joking about some technical glitches, an apparent reference to top Chinese epidemiologist Liang Wannian, who has been a leader of China’s response team.

“Nice to see our colleagues after lengthy Zoom meetings,” Koopman tweeted. The visiting researchers held video meetings during 14 days of quarantine after their arrival in China. They came out of quarantine on Thursday.

Members of the team left the hotel by car, and a short time later entered the gates of the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine. According to China’s official account of its response to the initial outbreak, Dr Zhang Jixian first reported cases of what was then known as “pneumonia of unknown origin” at the hospital on December 27, 2019. – AP