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China, WHO in talks on plans to trace virus origin

Beijing: China and the World Health Organization are discussing plans to trace the origin of the Coronavirus outbreak following a visit to the country by two experts from the U.N. agency, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters the experts conducted preparatory consultations on scientific research cooperation on virus tracing during their two-week stay, which ended Sunday.

Their talks touched on research in the areas of population, environment, molecules, animal traceability and transmission routes of the Coronavirus, as well as plans for further scientific research, Wang

said.

The two sides also further investigated the possible animal source, intermediate host and transmission route of the Coronavirus to more effectively prevent and control the epidemic, Wang said.

Wang said the two sides worked on formulating a plan for China's contribution to the global tracing effort under a resolution passed by the World Health Assembly under WHO. No word was given on when that effort will begin in earnest.

The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has been linked to a wholesale food market where wild animals were sold.

Scientists think it likely jumped from a wild animal such as a bat to humans via an intermediary species, possibly the anteater-like pangolin.

However, China says a full investigation may have to wait until the pandemic is under control and has rejected accusations that it delayed releasing information to WHO at the start of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the COVID-19 pandemic is "a once-in-a-century health crisis," but it is still "in our hands."

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference on Monday that the world has never seen anything like this pandemic for decades, and its effects might last for decades more, Xinhua news agency reported.

"Since we started probably recording, this is the first ever Coronavirus-caused pandemic which has two dangerous combinations: it moves fast, and at the same time it's a killer," the WHO chief explained.

However, he noted, although the crisis is very severe, there are still solutions and hopes.

"I'm not saying there is no solution now. Whatever happens in the next few months or years, I also believe that it's in our hands," he said.

"Since the outbreak started, many countries have shown that it can be controlled, or serious transmission can be suppressed," Tedros said, adding that he has mentioned many such countries in the past, including Spain, Italy, China and South Korea.

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