Selasa, 09 Februari 2021

World Health Organization team in China says COVID-19 probably came from animals, but no evidence it originated in bats - ABC News

The World Health Organization team in the Chinese city of Wuhan says viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 can be found in many animals, but they have been unable to find direct evidence of animal-human transmission.

The team, along with Chinese experts and counterparts, held a press conference to announce the conclusion into their fact-finding mission into the origins of COVID-19 in the central Chinese city where the outbreak was discovered in late 2019.

The head of the WHO team said its investigation had uncovered new information but had not dramatically changed the picture of the outbreak.

Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO virus expert, told the press conference that work to identify the origins of the coronavirus points to a natural reservoir in bats, but it is unlikely that they were in Wuhan.

China's head of the COVID-19 expert panel, Liang Wannian, said it believed that the disease may have originated from a zoonotic transmission, or from animals to humans, which then evolved.

However, he said the reservoir host has yet to be identified.

While bats and pangolins could possibly be the reservoir due to high similarities of genetic sequences, there was no evidence to suggest their coronavirus had a direct link to COVID-19, he said.

"Coronaviruses that are genetically related with SARS-CoV-2 have been identified in different animals including horses … bats and pangolins," he said, referring to the virus which causes COVID-19.

"Sampling of bats in Hubei province, however, has failed to find evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in native viruses, and sampling of wildlife in different places in China has so far failed to identify the presence of SARS-CoV-2."

Dr Liang said the susceptibility of felines such as minks or cats to the virus could also mean that they can act as a potential reservoir, however there is not enough sample size and it is still currently being investigated.

'Widespread contamination of surfaces'

Dr Liang said early cases in 2020 were linked to exposure to Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Market, as samples found a "widespread contamination of surfaces" of the virus in the market.

However, he said it was not possible to determine how the virus was introduced to the wet market.

"While some of the early cases had an association with the market, others were associated with other markets and others had no association with markets at all," he said.

The team also said there was no evidence of transmission in Wuhan before December 2019.

The WHO team of 14 experts in veterinary medicine, virology, food safety and epidemiology, spent weeks on the ground visiting various places including the Huanan Seafood Market, Wuhan Institute of Virology and various hospitals who treated people infected with COVID-19.

The WHO said team members were limited to visits organised by their Chinese hosts and would not have any contact with community members, due to health concerns.

China has tried to suggest that the virus originated elsewhere.

In announcing the experts' visit last month, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: "The tracing of the virus origin will most likely involve multiple countries and localities."


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2021-02-09 10:40:00Z

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