WHO chairs meeting with Chinese counterparts to investigate COVID-19's origin

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Oct 31, 2020, 10:34 AM(IST)

World Health Organisation Photograph:( Reuters )

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WHO may also issue an updated safety guideline with respect to international travel, observing the change in season and the advancement of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus

The health experts at the World Health Organization chaired a virtual meeting with their Chinese counterparts on Friday to investigate the origin of the novel coronavirus, which is reported to be lab-made in Wuhan, a Chinese city.

The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu told a virtual press briefing that the United Nations will continue “to establish the origins of the virus to prevent future outbreaks" and continuing the same "a group of international experts had their first virtual meeting with their Chinese counterparts," he said.

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The meeting with the Chinese counterparts happened after the WHO had sent a team of investigators and health experts to Beijing in July to lay the groundwork for the investigation. However, a larger team has yet not been dispatched to the Asian country. 

It was also made clear by the WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan that it was decided since the start that first meeting between the two sides will take place virtually, and then will proceed to face-to-face interaction.

He said the teams needed to first review all the studies already done “so that the trip, the mission ultimately will address the issues which are the gaps in knowledge.” He also stressed that such investigations have to be closely monitored and are very critical. “I cast my mind back to MERS and SARS and other diseases, which have taken months and sometimes years to establish animal origins, and sometimes years to get fully-fledged investigations carried out on the ground,” he said.

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Also talking about the mounting political pressure on the organisation — especially by the US President Donald trump — Ryan said the need of the moment is to find the right answers rather than surrendering to the pressure. He did acknowledge that the organisation was under immense political pressure. “That is what we need: ... the best answers. Not just any answer that satisfies political needs of speed,” he said. “We want the best possible scientific outcome, generating the best possible evidence for the origin of this disease because it is important.” He also added that the added political pressure creates a toxic work environment which negatively affects the workflow and quality. "We are trying our best to ensure the best science in the face of one of the most devastating epidemics we have had to face together as a planet," he concluded.

WHO may also issue an updated safety guideline with respect to international travel, observing the change in season and the advancement of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus. "It’s very important that WHO produce an updated guidance with regard to safe international air travel and clearly the use of the tests is certainly now supposed to have a much large place compare to quarantine," committee chair Didier Houssin said.

The meeting took place as the coronavirus cases totalled around 45.4 million with the death toll nearing to 1,187,020, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

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