WHO to investigate coronavirus origin in China

A team of World Health Organisation will set forth to visit China next week to investigate the origins of the coronavirus that has claimed lives of 5,00,000 people around the globe and the deaths keep surging day by day.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO told news agency ANI, “a team is going to China next week to investigate the origins of the virus.”

“What is needed now is a good investigation going back before December to find out where and how it jumped from animal to human. Was there any intermediate animal or not or it directly jumped from bat to humans which are also possible? Bats have been implicated in other viral diseases — Nipah for example. It is possible it came directly. It is also possible that there was an intermediate animal-like in the case of SARS. That thorough investigation still needs to be done,” she said.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that the Chinese government had reported an outbreak of “typical pneumonia cases” from Wuhan on December 31.

“Our WHO country office in China picked it up and on January 1, WHO activated its international mechanisms which we do as part of international health regulations whenever there’s any new signal gets reported. It is conveyed to everyone so that the whole world knows about it,” she said.

“We do not know more than that in the sense where and how it originated. We know from the virus sequences that it is very similar to bat viruses. A lot of studies have been done in South-East Asia to show that bats have lots of coronaviruses. There are over 500 types of coronaviruses. There are also previous studies showing that populations living in southern China and even in other countries of South-East Asia have antibodies to coronaviruses,” she said.

WHO will be visiting China in the midst of reports of the country delaying information and warning concerning novel coronavirus which could have helped in containing its spread in the initial days.

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