China, WHO in talks on plans to trace coronavirus origin

China and the World Health Organization are discussing plans to trace the origin of the coronavirus outbreak following a visit to the country by two experts from the United Nations agency, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland January 30, 2020.

"There are concerns that we may not have a vaccine that may work, or its protection could be for just a few months, not more".

Mr Tedros implored people around the world to comply with measures such as social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing, saying: "Do it all".

According to WHO, of 194 countries analyzed, 136 have legal measures related to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly (known as the Code).

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"The message to people and governments is clear: do it all".

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing there was "no silver bullet at the moment - and there might never be".

Tedros said stopping outbreaks depends on implementing the basics of public health and disease control.

"We have never documented, anywhere around the world, any (Covid-19) transmission through breastmilk", he said.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO's emergencies chief, noted "gaps in the epidemiological landscape" and said it would be assessed what studies to conduct and what data to collect.

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The WHO began pressing China in early May to invite in its experts to help investigate the animal origins of COVID-19.

More than 18 million coronavirus cases have been recorded worldwide with over 692,000 deaths as of publishing time.

However, only 79 countries prohibit the promotion of breast-milk substitutes in health facilities, and only 51 have provisions that prohibit the distribution of free or low-priced supplies within the health care system, WHO said in a report published in May.

A larger, WHO-led team of Chinese and global experts is planned next, including in the city of Wuhan, although the timing and composition of that was unclear.

Two specialists in animal health and epidemiology took part in the three-week advance mission, which was tasked with laying the groundwork for a broader team investigation into the origins of coronavirus and how it jumped the species barrier.

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