Coronavirus is “probably” from animals – not from a laboratory, says WHO

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Residents wear masks to buy vegetables at the market on January 23, 2020 in Wuhan, China.

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Evidence suggests that the coronavirus originated in bats in China in late 2019 and was not handled or manufactured in the laboratory, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The comment from the United Nations health agency comes after President Donald Trump said last week that the United States is trying to determine whether the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan, in central China.

“All the available evidence suggests that the virus is of animal origin and is not a virus manipulated or constructed in a laboratory or elsewhere,” WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said at a press conference in Geneva, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

“It is likely, likely that the virus is of animal origin,” she said, adding that there was “certainly” an intermediate animal host before the virus was transmitted to humans.

Last week, NBC News told NBC News that the country’s intelligence services were examining whether the coronavirus had accidentally emerged from a Chinese laboratory studying bat diseases. The lab in question denied the accusation, calling it a “conspiracy theory”.

The coronavirus has now infected nearly 2.5 million people and caused more than 170,000 deaths worldwide, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

WHO and President Trump have had a dramatic impact on the pandemic, with the President announcing last week that he would end his country’s funding for the organization.

Trump accused the WHO of mismanaging its response to the pandemic. WHO responded by saying that it would not be appropriate to suspend funding during the global epidemic.

The WHO said on Tuesday that it is still assessing the impact of blocked US funds on the organization and will work with partners to fill the gaps, Reuters reported.

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