Wuhan market in China's central Hubei province Photograph:( AFP )
The origin of the virus has become the bone of contention between China and the US with Chinese state media citing the presence of the virus in imported frozen food.
As World Health Organization(WHO) experts began their work on finding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan after their mandatory 14-day quarantine, China's foreign ministry said they must be allowed to work "free from political interference".
"All these activities must be in accordance with the principle of tracking the origin scientifically and with the ultimate goal of preventing future risks and protecting the safety and health of the people," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
The WHO team left the hotel on Thursday although the itinerary of the team wasn't provided. The team is expected to visit the Huanan seafood wholesale market where the first case of the virus was reportedly detected.
According to official Chinese data, nearly 3,900 people have died in Wuhan among the 4,636 fatalities nationwide. The origin of the virus has become the bone of contention between China and the US with Chinese state media citing the presence of the virus in imported frozen food.
The Chinese foreign ministry had alleged that the sudden closure of a US army laboratory at Fort Maryland last year was linked to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Former US President Donald Trump had alleged that the virus may have been leaked by from a Wuhan laboratory where researchers were studying the virus.
The pandemic has surged in northeastern China in the past months with several cases reported in Hebei province surrounding Beijing. On Wednesday, China reported 54 new coronavirus cases down from 75 COVID-19 cases a day earlier.
China's northeastern Heilongjiang province reported 28 new COVID-19 cases and neighbouring Jilin reported nine new coronavirus cases as the country continues to grapple with the virus.