Animals most likely to be source of COVID-19 : WHO

Foreign Desk Report

GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that all available evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus originated in bats in China late last year and it was not manipulated or constructed in a laboratory.
U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that his government was trying to determine whether the virus emanated from a lab in Wuhan in central China.
“All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed virus in a lab or somewhere else,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a Geneva news briefing. “It is probable, likely that the virus is of animal origin.”
It was not clear how the virus had jumped the species barrier to humans but there had “certainly” been an intermediate animal host, she added. The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that any lifting of lockdowns to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus must be gradual, and if restrictions were to be relaxed too soon, there would be a resurgence of infections.
Lockdown measures have proved effective, and people must be ready for a new way of living to allow society to function while the coronavirus is being kept in check, said Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.
We must adapt our lives and health systems along with the epidemic, Kasai told an online press conference. “At least until a vaccine, or a very effective treatment, is found, this process will need to become our new normal.”
Governments considering lifting lockdown measures should do so carefully and in stages, and continue to monitor the epidemic situation, he said.
So long as the coronavirus is circulating, no country is safe from a potentially overwhelming outbreak, he said. “Individuals and society need to be ready for a new way of living,” he said.
While the Western Pacific has in recent weeks been much less hard hit by the epidemic than the United States or Europe, there has been an increase in cases in Japan and Singapore, among other countries. Kasai also warned that the epidemic must not disrupt vaccination programmes against other diseases like polio, measles and rubella.
Otherwise the Western Pacific could face a new crisis when health systems are already strained, he said. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reaffirmed its stance on the lifting of lockdown measures aimed at protecting the public against the spread of coronavirus.
“We want to re-emphasize that easing restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, during his regular briefing to journalists.
Tedros said ending the disease will require a sustained effort from individuals, communities and Governments to continue suppressing and controlling the deadly new coronavirus.
“So-called lockdown can help to take the heat out of a country’s epidemic, but they cannot end it alone,” he added. “Countries must now ensure they can detect, test, isolate and care for every case, and trace every contact”.