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WHO Team Visits Wet Market Linked to First Coronavirus Cases

Workers in PPE spray the ground with diinfectant in Baishazhou market during a visit of World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in Wuhan

A team of World Health Organization scientists investigating the source of the coronavirus visited a wet market Sunday in Wuhan, China.

A cluster of cases were linked to the Huanan Seafood Market when the coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan in late 2019. Since then, the coronavirus has infected more than 102 million people worldwide and killed more than 2.2 million.

The scientists have already visited at least one of the hospitals in Wuhan that treated some of the first patients.

"Just back from visit at Jinyintan hospital, that specialized in infectious diseases and was designated for treatment of the first cases in Wuhan," Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans said on Twitter. "Stories quite similar to what I have heard from our ICU doctors."

One American member of the team, zoologist Peter Daszak with the EcoHealth Alliance, said on Twitter that it is important to speak to the doctors who first fought COVID-19, the diseased caused by the coronavirus.

The scientists want to know where the virus originated, in what animal, and how it made its way into humans, something that could take years to figure out.

The team is also planning to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology and laboratories at state facilities such as the Wuhan Center for Disease Control, according to the Geneva-based WHO.

As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to climb and highly contagious variants of the virus have emerged, some countries are imposing new travel restrictions.

France is prohibiting all travel to and from non-European Union countries. Under the new policy beginning Sunday, travelers from EU countries seeking entry into France will have to provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test.

Travelers from several European and African nations — Brazil, Britain, Eswatini, Ireland, Lesotho, Portugal, and South Africa — will not be allowed into Germany. However, German residents traveling from those countries will be granted entry, even if they test positive for the coronavirus virus.

In the U.S., 14 University of Michigan students are in quarantine after being diagnosed with the British variant of the virus. One of the students is reported to have traveled to Britain over the winter break.

Health officials in South Carolina say they have detected two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant, the first cases in the United States.

The U.S. remains the country with the most cases at more than 26 million, followed by India with 10.7 million and Brazil with 9.1 million, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Saturday.

The Pentagon on Saturday announced it would delay a plan to vaccinate the 40 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying it needed to “review force protection protocols,” John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a tweet.

The Pentagon has said it intends to vaccinate all the personnel who work at the detention center, or about 1,500 people. At that time, the vaccine would also be offered to the prisoners, none of whom have received a vaccination yet.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of Saturday morning, nearly 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been distributed and nearly 30 million had been administered.

The CDC said 24 million people had received one or more doses, and 5.3 million people had received a first dose.

The total includes both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

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