'Will do everything' to discover origin of COVID-19, says WHO

WION Web Team
Geneva, Switzerland Published: Nov 30, 2020, 10.03 PM(IST)

This handout picture taken and released by the World Health Organization on October 5, 2020 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wearing a protective face mask attending a WHO executive board holds special sess Photograph:( AFP )

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The WHO has for months been working to send a team of international experts, including epidemiologists and animal health specialists, to China to help probe the animal origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic and how the virus first crossed over to humans

World Health Organization's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that it ''will do everything'' to discover the origin of coronavirus.

Voicing deep concern Monday over a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths in Brazil in recent weeks, he said its condition "is very, very worrisome."

"I think Brazil has to be very, very serious," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, after fresh cases in the country jumped from around 10,000 per day in early November to more than 50,000, and as the daily death rate shot up nearly ninefold in a week. 

Earlier, WHO's top emergency expert said it would be "highly speculative" for the WHO to say the coronavirus did not emerge in China, where it was first identified in a food market in December last year.

Also read: Chinese scientists now claim coronavirus originated in India in summer 2019

The WHO has for months been working to send a team of international experts, including epidemiologists and animal health specialists, to China to help probe the animal origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic and how the virus first crossed over to humans.

The UN health agency sent an advance team to Beijing in July to lay the groundwork for the international probe, but it has remained unclear when the larger team of scientists would be able to travel to China to begin epidemiological studies to try to identify the first human cases and their source of infection.

Scientists believed the killer virus jumped from animals to humans at a market selling exotic animals for meat in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year.

China is pushing a narrative via state media that the virus existed abroad before it was discovered in the central city of Wuhan, citing the presence of coronavirus on imported frozen food packaging and scientific papers claiming it had been circulating in Europe last year.

At the briefing in Geneva, WHO also called for countries to remain vigilant even if they see a fall in coronavirus cases.

It is widely assumed that the virus originally came from bats, but the intermediate animal host that transmitted it between bats and humans remains unknown.

Late last month, the WHO said the team of 10 international experts it has set up had held their first meeting with their Chinese counterparts, albeit virtually.

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