The World Health Organization will lead an international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.
Two WHO experts — one in animal health and another in epidemiology — were to arrive in Beijing on Friday and will meet with Chinese officials to make preparations for the mission, the Associated Press reported. A key part of the investigation will be to “look at whether or not it jumped from species to human, and what species it jumped from,” according to WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris, M.D. It is believed that the new coronavirus may have originated in bats and was transmitted to another mammal before infecting humans.
Meanwhile, the WHO acknowledged on Thursday that the new coronavirus can linger in small airborne droplets indoors, after being urged to do so by hundreds of experts.
The WHO now says transmission of the new coronavirus by tiny droplets may have been responsible for “outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship, or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing,” The New York Times reported. However, the WHO’s updated description of how the new coronavirus spreads still largely emphasizes that it occurs by larger droplets that are coughed or inhaled or from contact with contaminated surfaces. The agency also stated unequivocally that the new coronavirus can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms.