The World Health Organisation said that the animal transmission source of Coronavirus in humans should be traced so as to prevent future health emergencies.
The scientists should get to the original virus “before it adapted to humans” to protect future generations, Food Safety and Zoonosis Expert at WHO Dr Peter Embarek said.
“It’s not too late, and as I said for the MERS virus, it took about a year before we found the source,” Dr Embarek said. “So, it’s never too late, but it’s important that we try to find the source and understand what happened at the start of the event to avoid a repeat of this event and to avoid another spill-over event in coming years with other different viruses,” he told the media.
Mentioning MERS episode in 2012, he said that it took several months to trace the source despite all efforts were made to find the missing animal -human link. At last it was traced to camels after health officials in Qatar reported two suspect cases linked to a farm.
Stressing that the animal human link should be traced at the earliest, Dr Embarek said that it would help in better understanding how the virus it adapted to humans, how it evolved and the changes in the make-up of virus. “We can see mutations sometimes, but we don’t really understand which mutation is critical and which one is less critical; because they are mutating all the time and in 99 per cent of the case this mutation means nothing – and we have to understand the critical ones,” he said.
With respect to calls for stronger health controls on wet markets, especially in Asia, Dr Embarek said that the question lies with respect to management of the wet markets. ”It’s a question of separating the public from the live animals and the people vending and slaughtering these animals; so it’s more about management than regulations and inspections and cleaning and disinfections,” he added.
On concerns raised about the virus transmitted through cats, ferrets and dogs, the WHO said that cats were susceptible and could also transmit the disease to other cats. Ferrets are also infected along with dogs “to some extent”. However, pigs and poultry have more resistance to the disease, the UN Body said.
Dr Embarek also opined that coronavirus will not get transmitted by mosquitoes and parasites.