File photo: AFP
GENEVA, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday reiterated that the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 is "natural in origin."
Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, told a virtual press conference from Geneva that scientists who are examining the genetic sequences of the virus have assured "again and again that this virus is natural in origin."
Answering a question from the press, Ryan said that for WHO the real question now is what the natural host for this virus is and how the animal human species barrier was breached.
"The purpose of the understanding is that we can put in place the necessary prevention and public health measures to prevent that happening again," he said.
Last month, the WHO said that all available evidence has suggested that the new coronavirus has an animal origin, and is not a virus "manipulated or constructed" in a lab or somewhere else. WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told a press conference on April 21 that there is certainly an intermediary host, another animal, that transmitted the disease from bats to humans.
"WHO is, as I said, a science-based organization, and we think the origin is animal," the spokesperson said, "It (the novel coronavirus) most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats, but how the virus came from bat to human is still to be seen, to be discovered."
She pledged that the WHO welcomes all countries to support efforts to find the origin of the virus, noting that several working groups, including Chinese experts, are very active trying to find the origin of this virus.