COVID-19 probably came to humans from animals, say WHO experts

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Geneva (Web Desk): A team of international experts will present details Tuesday of their findings from a mission to China, which concluded COVID-19 probably passed to humans from a bat via an intermediary animal, all but ruling out a laboratory leak.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the international experts would hold a press conference Tuesday at 1400 GMT to discuss their findings, adding that all hypotheses on the pandemic’s origins remained open and needed further study.

The report, drafted by World Health Organization-appointed international experts and their Chinese counterparts, offers no definitive answers on how the new coronavirus jumped to humans.

COVID-19 has killed more than 2.7 million people worldwide in the 15 months since it emerged, forcing governments around the world to introduce restrictions that have battered the global economy.

Ahead of a meeting with world leaders, UN chief Antonio Guterres called Monday for more debt relief for the poorest countries struggling with economic fallout from the pandemic.

The expert report on the origins of COVID-19 has had a troubled birth, with publication delays adding to the hold-ups and diplomatic wrangling that plagued the WHO’s attempts to get experts into Wuhan -- the city at the center of the initial outbreak.

They finally arrived on January 14, more than a year after the first cases surfaced.

Experts believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease originally came from bats.