A team of experts from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan Thursday to probe the origins of the coronavirus.
The 10 scientists landed for their much-delayed mission, met by Chinese officials in hazmat suits and given throat swabs on arrival and were whisked to a hotel where they must complete a two-week quarantine before beginning their inquiries.
The arrival of the delegation comes as China reported its first fatality from the virus in several months — a woman with underlying conditions in northern Hebei province.
The WHO says establishing the pathway of the virus from animals to humans is essential to preventing future outbreaks.
The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and has since billowed out across the world killing nearly two million people so far, infecting tens of millions.
Beijing has argued that although Wuhan is where the first cluster of cases was detected, it is not necessarily where the virus originated.
However, despite painstaking months of negotiations over their remit, the team was blocked from arriving last week — a sign of the political baggage attached to the mission.
More than 20 million people are under lockdown in the north of China and one province has declared an emergency but another 138 infections were reported by the National Health Commission on Thursday, the highest single-day tally since March last year.