The World Health Organization says it’s unlikely that the Coronavirus first detected in Wuhan was leaked from a Chinese laboratory.
After nearly one month of meetings and visits to various sites including the Wuhan market, hospital and laboratory, virus expert Peter Ben Embarek on Tuesday told the media that the origins pointed to a natural reservoir in bats, but it was unlikely that it was in the sprawling capital of China’s Hubei province.
He said his team of experts had two objectives when they arrived in China; one to get a better understanding of what happened in December 2019 which would be the starting point of the outbreak, and the other to understand how the virus emerged.
“The conclusion was that we did not find evidence of large outbreaks that could be related to cases of Covid-19 prior to December 2019 in Wuhan.
“We have found a wider circulation of the virus in December, it was not just a cluster outbreak at the market, but it was also circulated outside of the market.
“Since Wuhan is a city and not close to the bats’ environment, a direct jump from bats into the city of Wuhan is not likely,” Embarek added.
He said the market dealt primarily with frozen products, and in particular seafood.
However, there were also vendors selling products from domesticated wildlife, farms and wild animals.
Liang Wannian, China’s head of the Covid-19 panel, said the disease may have originated from zoonotic transmission, from animals to humans, but that the reservoir host was yet to be identified.
He said bats and pangolins showed high similarities of genetic sequences and could possibly be the reservoir.