Photo taken on Jan. 22, 2020 shows an exterior view of the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO on Wednesday night extended to Thursday its emergency talks on whether the novel coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). (Xinhua/Liu Qu)

The mission of the research team to arrive in China for novel coronavirus origin-tracing is about scientific answers, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Monday.

“Understanding the origins of disease is not about finding somebody to blame, it is about scientific answers,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a virtual press conference from Geneva.

Answering a question on whether the WHO might send teams to any other countries, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 response at the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that the research studies will go where the initial patients were identified and the WHO is also working with different networks.

China said Monday it supports scientists of all countries in carrying out global scientific research on the origin and route of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and supports member states in conducting cooperation on the animal origin of the virus under the leadership of the WHO.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made the remarks at a press conference in response to a question regarding China’s announcement that an international expert team of the WHO will arrive in China on Thursday to conduct joint research with Chinese scientists to trace the origin of the novel coronavirus.

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