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China to allow US health officials entry to study coronavirus

China to allow US health officials entry to study coronavirus
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U.S. health officials have received the “green light” to travel to China to study the coronavirus, lawmakers told The Hill on Wednesday.

“They just got the green light,” Rep. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerEnergized by polls, House Democrats push deeper into GOP territory Democrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide MORE (R-Mo.) said as she emerged from an all-member coronavirus briefing in the House hosted by Trump administration officials. 

“I’m pleased that the CDC and the NIH, and our scientists and research specialists will be over there embedded with the Chinese to actually find out what the scope of the problems is with this virus, to hopefully come up with a cure,” Wagner said, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. 

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“The WHO is over there right now, but the CDC and NIH are our people. Then once they get eyes on it, they’ll get a better sense. It will happen pretty soon,” Wagner added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday received permission from China to send a team of experts to collaborate with the Chinese government. 

WHO said the team is going to “work with Chinese counterparts on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts.”

Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, later Wednesday confirmed that agency experts have been invited to work with the WHO team.

U.S. health officials have formally offered assistance to China on two separate occasions: once to the country’s health minister, and another time through the WHO during a meeting in Beijing.

Among the Trump administration officials who briefed lawmakers Wednesday was immigration hard-liner Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department. 

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Other lawmakers leaving the briefing said CDC and NIH officials stressed that the risk to Americans was low, and that the agency has enough funding to deal with the response.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 132 people in China, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases of infection. There are only five confirmed cases in the U.S.

Updated at 6:23 p.m.