WHO proposes new coronavirus mission in China and laboratory controls | Coronavirus pandemic news

The WHO head sets five priorities for the next stage of the probe into the origin of COVID-19.

The World Health Organization said the second stage of an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus should include further studies in China and “audit” laboratories.

On Friday in a closed-door briefing to Member States, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus proposed five priorities for the next phase of the investigation.

They included “checks from relevant laboratories and research institutions operating in the area of ​​the initial human cases identified in December 2019,” the Reuters news agency reported, citing a copy of its opening statement provided by the WHO. .

He also suggested that researchers focus on “studies that prioritize geographic areas with the first indication of SARS CoV-2 circulation.”

And he asked for more animal market studies in the vicinity of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first detected.

The UN health agency has been under intensifying pressure for a further in-depth investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Diplomats said China, which has resisted the return of international scientists, had objected to the closed-door discussions saying: “This plan is not a basis for future studies.”

A WHO-led team spent four weeks in the central city of Wuhan and around Chinese researchers and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted. from bats to men through another animal.

But countries including the United States and some scientists have called for more research, particularly on the Wuhan Institute of Virology conducting research on bats.

“Finding the origin of this virus is a scientific exercise that must be freed from politics. For that to happen, we expect China to support this next phase of the scientific process by sharing all relevant data in a spirit of transparency, ”Tedros said.

China has called the theory that the virus may have escaped from a Wuhan lab “absurd” and has repeatedly said that “politicizing” the problem hinders investigations.

At a regular briefing on Friday, asked about Tedros’ previous comments on the need for more data from China, a spokesman for China’s foreign minister, Zhao Lijian, said some data did not. they may have copied or left China because it involved personal information.

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