China on Thursday blocked two members of the 13-member World Health Organisation (WHO) team from travelling to Wuhan after they failed the coronavirus antibody test in Singapore.
A WHO team landed in Wuhan on Thursday to study the cause of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The WHO first tweeted that the international team of 13 scientists examining the origins of the virus that causes Covid-19 arrived in Wuhan.
The experts were to begin their work immediately during the two-week quarantine protocol for international travellers.
Later, in a separate tweet, WHO said that two members of that team remain in Singapore after they were “tested positive for IgM antibodies”.
IgM antibodies are among the earliest potential signs of a coronavirus infection and false positives are also possible with such tests.
“Two scientists are still in #Singapore completing tests for #COVID19. All team members had multiple negative PCR and antibody tests for COVID-19 in their home countries prior to travelling,” the WHO said in a tweet.
“They are being retested for both IgM and IgG antibodies.”
IgG is the most common type of antibody found in blood circulation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday said the country “will strictly follow the relevant epidemic prevention regulations and requirements, and provide corresponding support and facilities for WHO experts who come to China to carry out international cooperation on tracing the origin of the virus”.
Asked about the two scientists denied entry, Zhao would not comment, instructing reports to ask “the relevant authorities.”
According to the report, this is the second delay for the WHO team, which was due to arrive in China earlier this month.
The team was blocked from flying there by the Chinese authorities, triggering a rare rebuke from the United Nations (UN).
“I am very disappointed with this news,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team,” he said.
The US has also demanded transparency in WHO operations in China.