WHO urges countries to investigate early COVID-19 cases

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 5, 2020 - Duration: 01:54s

WHO urges countries to investigate early COVID-19 cases

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that a report that COVID-19 had emerged in December in France, sooner than previously thought, was “not surprising”, and urged countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases.

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WHO urges countries to investigate early COVID-19 cases

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday (May 5) that a report that COVID-19 had emerged in December in France -- sooner than previously thought -- was "not surprising," and is urging countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases.

So let’s rewind -- The disease later identified as COVID-19 was first reported by Chinese authorities to the WHO on New Years Eve - December 31st - and was not previously believed to have spread to Europe until January.

But now -- a French hospital has retested old samples from pneumonia patients and discovered that it treated a man who had COVID-19 as early as Dec.

27 -- nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that this gives everything "a whole new picture” and that these findings help to better understand the potential circulation of COVID-19.

He encouraged other countries to check their records for pneumonia cases of unspecified origin in late 2019.

When asked about the origins of the virus in China, Lindmeier stressed that it was "really, really important" to explore this.

But this topic is already causing friction.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleges his country has "evidence" that the new coronavirus emerged from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, although Washington hasn't disclosed its findings.

The WHO says it will not speculate on Pompeo's claims unless the United States shares its information.

China's also fired back with its own claims previously suggesting the U.S. military might have brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.

WHO's top emergencies expert Dr. Mike Ryan said on Monday (May 4) that the body's chief had raised the issue of the origins of the virus "at the highest level" during a WHO mission to China in January.

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