The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday asserted that the recent Wuhan investigation has uncovered new information but has not dramatically changed the picture of COVID-19 outbreak, as reported by news agency Reuters.
WHO’s Peter Ben Embarek said that the team did not find evidence of large outbreaks that could be related to COVID-19 prior to December 2019 in Wuhan or anywhere else, reported Reuters. Embarek added that the team found evidence of wider circulation outside the Wuhan Huanan market in December 2019.
As per news agency AP, WHO expert said that the coronavirus leak from Chinese lab was unlikely, most probably jumped to human via intermediary species.
Earlier a top expert at China`s health authority said on Tuesday that the virus that causes COVID-19 could have been circulating in other regions before it was identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Liang Wannian, an expert with China`s Health Commission, also told a press briefing at the end of a nearly one-month visit to Wuhan by a World Health Organization-led team that there had been no substantial spread of the virus in the city before the late 2019 outbreak.
Members of a WHO-led team have been looking for clues about the origins of COVID-19 for nearly a month of meetings and site visits in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease was first identified. The briefing was originally scheduled for 3.30 pm local time (0730 GMT) on Tuesday afternoon but was then delayed until 5.00 pm (0900 GMT).
Embarek, the WHO`s food safety and animal disease specialist and chairman of the investigation team, spoke alongside fellow team member Marion Koopmans, a virus expert. Liang Wannian, head of the expert COVID-19 panel at China`s National Health Commission, also attended.
The team arrived in Wuhan on January 14 and after two weeks of quarantine, visited key sites like the Huanan seafood market, the location of the first known cluster of infections, as well as the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been involved in coronavirus research.
Members of the team have sought to rein in expectations about the mission, with zoologist Peter Daszak telling Reuters last week that one of their aims was to “identify the next steps to fill in the gaps”. Another team member, infectious disease expert Dominic Dwyer, said it would probably take years to fully understand the origins of COVID-19.
The United States said China needed to be more open when it comes to sharing data and samples as well as allowing access to patients, medical staff and lab workers. Beijing subsequently accused Washington of politicizing a scientific mission.