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|WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a meeting in Switzerland, July 3 Photo: Reuters.|
"A two-member team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) has completed a three-week mission in China to build the foundation for upcoming joint efforts to identify the source of the virus."
They also "conduct video discussions with scientists, virologists in Wuhan, China, as well as officials in Beijing," the WHO added.
The announcement came after an expert group at the fourth meeting of the Covid-19 emergency committee convened by WHO on July 31 urged the organization to speed up its investigation, which was launched.
The committee meets every three months to assess whether the epidemic is eligible to be considered a public health emergency, and to provide advice to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The meeting called for speeding up "research on the remaining important nCoV unknowns, such as animal origin and its potential intermediate hosts".
According to General Director Tedros, the meeting concluded that Covid-19 is still at the highest alert level. The emergency committee is composed of medical experts from more than 20 countries, including China, the United States, France and South Korea.
"We can fight the virus better if we know everything about it, including how it started," Tedros emphasized in late June when announcing the investigation.
On July 7, a team of experts arrived in China to set up the basis for the investigation.
However, Mike Ryan, the director of the WHO's emergency health program, said it would take weeks before a full team of experts could reach China, the streamnews reported.
Covid-19 broke out in December 2019, appearing in 213 countries and territories with nearly 18 million cases and nearly 680,000 deaths.
An investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China
|Parents and relatives wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus waiting for their students in the national college entrance exams in China, July 10, 2020, in Beijing. (Photo: VOA)|
An advance team from the World Health Organization (WHO) has arrived in China to prepare an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus that causes COVID-19, which is believed to have started in animals before jumping to humans, first emerged in a since-shuttered wholesale market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Two Geneva-based WHO experts, specialists in animal health and epidemiology, will meet their Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Saturday to "develop the scope and terms" of the inquiry, said Tarik Jašarević, a WHO spokesperson.
"The objective is to advance the understanding of animal hosts for COVID-19 and ascertain how the disease jumped between animals and humans," Jašarević told VOA.
“That’s why we’re sending an animal health expert ... to look at whether or not it jumped from species to a human and what species it jumped from,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said at a Friday press briefing in Geneva.
“We know it’s very, very similar to the virus in the bat, but did it go through an intermediate species? This is a question we all need answered,” she said.
The investigation comes at a politically sensitive time, as the administration of President Donald Trump begins the process of withdrawing the United States from the WHO, a move that could hurt the U.N. agency’s coronavirus pandemic response and reshape public health diplomacy, said the VOA.
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