Inside a COVID-19 hospital in Wuhan, China in February 2020

Days after playing difficult, China has now agreed to allow a team of World Health Organisation (WHO) experts to enter the country to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, in a rare rebuke, the WHO director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus blasted China for delaying the mission.

Tedros expressed disappointment that China foot-dragged in giving permission to the investigators to enter the country.

The WHO experts, who will arrive Thursday, will be working with Chinese scientists in studying the contagion’s origins, China’s National Health Commission said in a brief statement on Monday.

A health commission official earlier said the WHO team would be travelling to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected and which became the first Covid-19 hot spot.

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The arrival of the WHO experts coincide with the rising cases, since five months of the virus in Mainland China.

New infections rose in Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing.

A county in the northeastern Heilongjiang province on Monday moved into lockdown after reporting new novel coronavirus infections, state television also reported separately.

Hebei accounted for 82 of the 85 new local infections reported on Jan. 10, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in a statement, with Liaoning Province also reporting two new cases and Beijing reporting one new case.

The country also saw 18 new imported infections from overseas.

The total number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 103, the highest since 127 cases were reported on July 30.

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Though the recent case tallies remain a small fraction of what the country saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, authorities are moving aggressively to curb its spread to avoid another national wave of infections.

China has been accused of initially covering up the outbreak that first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, which critics say delayed China’s initial response and allowed COVID-19 to spread globally.

Shijiazhuang, Hebei’s capital and the epicentre of the new outbreak in the province, is in lockdown.

People and vehicles are being barred from leaving Shijiazhuang, while public transport in the city is also been halted.

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Mainland China’s total number of infections to date now stands at 87,536, while the death toll is unchanged at 4,634.