WHO Considers Mission to Seek Source of Coronavirus in China


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a close up of a logo: The World Health Organization (WHO) emblem sits on a glass entrance door at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. So far, 73,424 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 1,873 have died around the world, the vast majority of them in China’s Hubei province.
The World Health Organization (WHO) emblem sits on a glass entrance door at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. So far, 73,424 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 1,873 have died around the world, the vast majority of them in China’s Hubei province.
(Bloomberg) — The World Health Organization is considering a new mission to seek the source of the coronavirus in China, amid growing controversy over the origin of a pandemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million people.
“Without knowing where the animal origin is, it’s hard to prevent it from happening again,” Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist, said at a press briefing Wednesday.
Talk of a new mission comes as debate grows over the source of the outbreak, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, more than four months ago. U.S. President Donald Trump says the virus likely escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a laboratory that studies dangerous pathogens. Some intelligence agencies are casting doubt on that theory.
The WHO has come under fire from Trump, who has moved to cut off funding to the Geneva-based United Nations agency, saying it was overly deferential to China as the virus spread in that country and beyond.
Van Kerkhove in February participated in a previous mission to China, which concluded that the virus was zoonotic in origin. Bats appeared to be the “reservoir” for the virus, but an intermediate host could not be determined, the report said.
“There is discussion with our counterparts in China for a further mission, which would be more academic in focus, and really focus on looking at what happened at the beginning in terms of exposures with different animals,” Van Kerkhove said.
Related Slideshow: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world (Provided by Photo Services)
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Slide 1 of 120: UBAQUE, COLOMBIA – APRIL 27: Members of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Colombian Army distribute food and other items to families at the rural areas near to the colombian capital, in order to fight against coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Ubaque, Colombia on April 27, 2020. (Photo by Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Members of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Colombian Army distribute food and other items to families in the rural areas of Ubaque in Colombia on April 27.
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