An international expert team from the World Health Organization will arrive in China on Thursday to conduct joint scientific research with Chinese scientists on investigating COVID-19, the National Health Commission said on Monday.
No further details were disclosed in the brief statement released by the commission.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that China has been conducting exchanges and cooperating with the WHO on tracing the origin of the novel coronavirus in an open, transparent and responsible manner.
The Chinese and WHO experts have exchanged information on the latest progress in origin-tracing and worked together to formulate a plan for cooperation in China under a broader plan for global investigations, he said.
"Origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus is a scientific matter, and should be conducted in cooperation by scientists across the world," Zhao said.
"With constantly intensified knowledge about the virus, and the discovery of more early cases, it is highly likely that origin-tracing will involve many places across the world, and the WHO will conduct similar inspections in other countries if needed."
"China is willing to continue to engage in cooperation on the issue with the WHO and international experts to contribute to global origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus."
Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of the commission, said at a news conference on Saturday that China has had discussions with the WHO on a visit to Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, by WHO experts and agreement has been reached on details, including the process, focus and procedure for scientific research during the visit.
Specific Chinese expert teams in different disciplines, such as virology, epidemiology and public health, will cooperate with the WHO team, he said.
"We believe that via the cooperation, by adhering to science, we will be bound to have new discoveries about the virus,... and better knowledge of the virus is very important for the prevention and control of outbreaks of new infectious diseases in the future."
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told China Daily in an earlier interview that progress on origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus has been very limited over the past year despite great joint efforts from researchers in China and overseas.
"Much is still unknown about the virus, and persistent and rigorous scientific efforts must be made on the path to finding the answer, and a thorough, worldwide investigation should be a priority."