All hypotheses still open in Covid-19 origins probe, says WHO

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

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the number of reported cases of globally has declined for the fourth week in a row, and the number of deaths also fell for the second consecutive week.

The team started a visit to the central Chinese city of Wuhan on January 14 for a joint study on the coronavirus's origins. "We must boost investments and support for our health workers and health systems by sticking to mask-wearing, regular hand cleaning and safe social distancing", said Dr Moeti.

Peter Daszak and Thea Fischer, members of the World Health Organization team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease, sit in a vehicle at Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, Feb. 2, 2021.

Chinese officials and scientists provided their own extensive summaries and analysis of data on the cases, said the World Health Organization team members.

She added that even though the administration rejoined the World Health Organization, it is "imperative that we have our own team of experts on the ground" in China.

Chinese officials have stressed in recent months that the virus could have emerged in multiple regions outside China. "We have always said that this mission would not find all the answers, but it has added important information that takes us closer to understanding the origins of the Covid-19 virus", he said.

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Peter Ben Embarek, who heads the WHO-led team that spent four weeks in China - two of them in quarantine - said that the investigation had not dramatically changed its picture of the outbreak, although the virus could have crossed borders before arriving in Wuhan.

The administration of former USA president Donald Trump said it believed the virus may have escaped from a lab in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Eager to deflect global 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.

Second, they gave credence to theories promoted by China, but viewed skeptically by many independent experts, that COVID-19 may have been imported from somewhere else, possibly through frozen meat.

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.

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