WHO’s International experts team seeking covid-19 origin to go to China in January

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday announced that a team of international experts will be traveling to China next month, to help investigate the animal origins of COVID-19. The UN health agency has been working for months to send a team of 10 international experts, including epidemiologists and animal health specialists, to China, where the virus first surfaced last year in the month of December.

“I can confirm that this will take place in January,” WHO spokesman Hedinn Halldorsson told AFP when asked about reports that the expert team would finally go to China next month. A year into the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.6 million people and infected over 73 million globally, the question of where the virus came from and how it first crossed over to humans remains a mystery.

The WHO has for months been working to send a team of 10 international experts, including epidemiologists and animal health specialists, to China, where the virus first surfaced last December. The UN health agency sent an advance team to Beijing in July to lay the groundwork for the international probe. But it has until now remained unclear when the larger team of scientists would be able to travel to China to begin epidemiological studies to try to identify the first human cases and their source of infection.

Initially, scientists were of the belief that the deadly virus jumped from animals to humans at a market selling exotic animals for meat in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected late last year. But, on second thought, experts have now opined that the market may not have been the origin of the outbreak, but rather a place where it was amplified.

Even though it is widely assumed that the virus originally came from bats, but till date, the intermediate animal host that transmitted it between bats and humans remains unknown. In October, the international experts had their first meeting with their Chinese counterparts, but only virtually.

Mean-while, India recorded 24,010 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while the national recovery rate stood at over 95 percent, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry today.

India’s coronavirus caseload mounted to 99,356,557 with 24,010 infections being reported in a day, while the deaths rose to 1,44,451 with 355 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am on Thursday showed.

There are 3,322,366 active coronavirus infections in the country which constitute 3.24 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.

Meanwhile, Professor Randeep Guleria, the chief of Delhi’s prestigious All-India Institute of Medical Sciences told NDTV on Wednesday that it could take up to six months before a sufficient number of people could be vaccinated to break the chain of coronavirus transmission and another six months before life could get close to the pre-Covid days.

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