World Health Organization chief cautions against easing restrictions

WHO open to all hypotheses on coronavirus origins Tedros

However, there are several possible scenarios for how it passed to humans, possibly first by infecting another species of animal.

"So, these are symptoms or complications that can happen potentially a month after, three months after, or even six months after and as we are learning more, we are trying to understand the real duration of this condition", he said.

But he also said they are still far from identifying the origins of the coronavirus.

China has long said the lab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, never possessed the Covid-19 virus.

Peter Ben Embarek, the leader of the World Health Organization mission, said Friday the labs in Wuhan that his team visited stated they had not been working with the virus that causes COVID-19, or had it in their collections before the outbreak.

The team's mission appeared to be highly sensitive, as the United States called for a "robust" investigation while China warned against politicizing the issue.

The team started a visit to the central Chinese city of Wuhan on January 14 for a joint study on the coronavirus's origins.

World Health Organization team probing COVID-19 visits Wuhan lab, meets 'Bat Woman'
Daszak said Chinese authorities had not refused any of the team's requests to visit facilities or meet with key figures. The virus that causes COVID-19 is suspected of originating in bats and its outbreak was first detected in Wuhan.

"It's of course always possible that the virus is and was present in samples that have not yet been processed, or among viruses that have not yet been characterized", the expert said.

The former administration of US President Donald Trump, which left office last month, said it believed the virus may have escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

He said, "Today, I am inviting everyone to join me in the call to share technology so we can produce vaccines for the world and share them equitably".

Eager to deflect worldwide criticism over its initial handling of the outbreak, China has also amplified studies suggesting some COVID-19 cases emerged in Italy and other countries in late 2019.

W.H.O. team members have made a few previous statements that differed from their organization's official conclusions or the positions their Chinese hosts have taken, but the WSJ report Friday offered some of most striking evidence to date of China deliberately obstructing the W.H.O. investigation.

In addition to sampling more wild animal reservoirs - especially bats - in and outside China, Ben Embarek suggested re-testing samples using "new approaches" to blood tests and looking for more early cases that went undetected in Wuhan in December 2019.

Preliminary reports which WHO has received from 21 countries show that 66 percent reported inadequate critical care capacity, 24 per cent reported burnout among health workers and 15 countries reported that oxygen production, crucial for severely ill Covid-19 patients, remains insufficient. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

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