A team of World Health Organisation is all set to visit China next week amidst charges that Beijing delayed giving information regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak. The team will investigate the origins of the virus and its spread to human beings.
The visit will take place more than six months after the WHO’s Country Office in China picked up a statement from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on cases of ‘viral pneumonia’.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke in January about an agreement with China for sending a team of international experts “as soon as possible” to work on increasing the understanding of the outbreak.
COVID-19 has killed over 500,000 people in the world and cases and deaths are increasing by the day.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO said that a “thorough investigation” needs to be done into the origins of the virus.
She said that the WHO has been working with the Chinese government for the visit. “A team is going to China next week to investigate the origins of the virus,” Swaminathan said.
“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.