TUESDAY. MAY 5
The World Health Organisation has seen no information from the US or other sources to indicate the novel coronavirus came from a Chinese laboratory.
Senior WHO official Mike Ryan has been quoted as saying: “From our perspective this remains speculative,” he said in Geneva, speaking in an online press briefing.
US President Donald Trump said last week he has seen information indicating the Wuhan Institute of Virology is behind the coronavirus outbreak.
However, the US intelligence community has concluded the novel coronavirus was not man-made or genetically modified, even though it is still examining whether the outbreak could have originated in a Chinese laboratory.
Washington has not shared such data with the WHO, said Ryan, who leads the UN agency’s emergency operations in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s difficult for the WHO to operate in an information vacuum in that regard,” he said.
The WHO’s top COVID-19 scientist Maria Van Kerkhove stressed that thousands of genetic analyses of the virus had all indicated it was of natural origin, even though it was still unclear which animal passed it to humans.
In other COVID-19 news:
- Health authorities in NSW have confirmed four new coronavirus infections, bringing the state’s total to 3,036. Three of the cases are staff members at the Newmarch House aged care home in Western Sydney, where there has been a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Fifteen people have died at the Caddens nursing home where a staff member worked six shifts last month despite displaying mild coronavirus symptoms. The crisis deepened yesterday when the facility’s operator, Anglicare, asked healthcare contractor Aspen Medical to stand down one of its staff at Newmarch House, over alleged breaches of infection control at the centre.
- The number of coronavirus deaths around the world has risen above 250,000, Russia has become a new hotspot, and Italians have finally emerged from lockdown. The US leads the toll with 68,387, followed by Italy (29,079), United Kingdom (28,734), Spain (25,264) and France (24,864).
- Grim economic data will be presented to a meeting of the National Cabinet today, with Australia on track for its first recession in 30 years. According to new Treasury analysis, the coronavirus shutdown is costing the Australian economy $4 billion a week.
- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will join Australia’s National Cabinet as leaders discuss lifting restrictions on flights between the two countries to create a so-called “trans-Tasman bubble”.
- Victoria has recorded 17 new coronavirus cases including another 11 cases linked to a Melbourne meatworks. Two of the new cases were uncovered at drive-through testing sites and one person is in mandatory hotel quarantine after returning from overseas. The other three new cases are still under investigation.
- Coles will extend trading hours and end special shopping times for the elderly and vulnerable as the coronavirus crisis eases. From Friday, almost 200 stores nationally will open their doors from 6am, to ease pressure on families juggling home schooling and working-from-home arrangements. A special community shopping hour – set aside for elderly and vulnerable customers and emergency and healthcare workers – will also be opened up to everyone.
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