World Health Organization continues to lavish China with praise for handling of coronavirus crisis

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Valentine's Day may have been three months ago, but the sometimes too-close-for-comfort relationship between the World Health Organization and China is still burning bright.

WHO officials renewed their praise for China and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, citing Beijing's "openness" to the prospect of scientific inquires involving foreign experts into the origins of the contagion.

WHO's emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said he has "day-to-day" discussions with colleagues in China and commended the country for working well with other nations eager to understand the animal origins of COVID-19.

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"I am very pleased to hear a very consistent message coming from China, which is one of openness to such an approach," Ryan said.

At a Geneva news conference Monday, Ryan said he didn’t believe a date had been set for an international mission to be sent to China to explore the origin of the virus, “but we look forward to doing that as soon as possible.”

The symbiotic relationship China enjoys with the WHO has been repeatedly criticized by the United States.

President Trump has called the WHO a "pipe organ" for China in its handling of the deadly outbreak that's infected 5.5 million people and killed more than 347,000 worldwide.

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Trump also pointed to unsubstantiated claims that the virus was created and/or leaked from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the crisis. Lab officials, the WHO and China have denied the claims.

On Tuesday, China reported seven new coronavirus cases, all brought into the country by Chinese citizens returning from abroad.

Just 81 patients remain hospitalized with COVID-19, and another 408 are in isolation and being monitored for either suspected cases or after testing positive for the virus without showing any symptoms.

China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths from the disease among 82,992 cases.

In the United States, a ban on foreign travelers arriving from Brazil due to the surge in coronavirus cases there will now take effect late Tuesday, two days earlier than previously announced.

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The ban had been set to go into effect late Thursday.

The White House announced the change Monday without explanation.

Brazil is second to the U.S. in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and has seen cases surge in recent days.

The White House cited Brazil’s status as Latin America’s hardest-hit country on Sunday when it announced the ban, saying it would prevent additional infections in the U.S.

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Foreign nationals who have been to Brazil in the two weeks before they attempt to enter the U.S. are to be turned back under the ban.

The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and their spouses, parents or children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.