Sat | Sep 26, 2020

WHO advance team ends visit to China on COVID-19 origin probe

Published:Monday | August 3, 2020 | 3:51 PM
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses a press conference about the update on COVID-19 at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, February 24, 2020. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization said Monday an advance team looking into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak has concluded its mission in China, and the United Nations health agency is preparing the deployment of a larger group of experts to the suspected outbreak zone.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the “international team” will deploy to Wuhan, the city where the pandemic is believed to have erupted late last year.

Tedros said “terms of reference” have been drawn up by the WHO and China, but he did not specify.

“The WHO advance team that travelled to China has now concluded their mission to lay the groundwork for further joint efforts to identify the virus’ origins,” he told a news conference.

“Epidemiological studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases.”

He said “evidence and hypothesis” generated from the work would “lay the ground for further, longer-term studies.”

The comments came amid an increasingly heavy toll from the pandemic in the United States, Brazil and India, as investigators seek to clarify the origins of the virus and how it may have jumped from animals to humans late last year.

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