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Odishatv Bureau

Geneva: All available evidence to date suggests that the novel coronavirus has a natural animal origin and was not a manipulated or constructed virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"Many researchers have been able to look at the genomic features of SARS-CoV-2 and have found that evidence does not support that SARS-CoV-2 is a laboratory construct," said the global health watchdog, stressing that if it were a constructed virus, its genomic sequence would show a mix of known elements, but "this is not the case", reports Xinhua news agency.

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The novel coronavirus was identified in early January and its genetic sequence shared publicly on January 11-12, the WHO noted.

According to the world health body, the full genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus from the early human cases and the sequences of many other viruses isolated from human cases from China and all over the world showed that the novel coronavirus has an ecological origin in bat populations.

Although the intermediate animal host has not been identified, the WHO said, all available evidence indicated the novel coronavirus has a zoonotic source.

To better understand the source of the outbreak in China, a number of investigations are currently underway or planned.

As of Friday morning, the global number of coronavirus cases stood at 2,708,470, with 190,788 deaths.

WHO reports fivefold increase in cyber attacks

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the number of cyberattacks against it was now more than five times of that directed at the UN body in the same period last year.

Saying in a statement issued Thursday, the WHO said that this week, some 450 active organization email addresses and passwords were leaked online along with thousands belonging to others working on the novel coronavirus response, reports Xinhua news agency.

"The leaked credentials did not put WHO systems at risk because the data was not recent. However, the attack did impact an older extranet system, used by the current and retired staff as well as partners," it said.

The organization said that it was now migrating affected systems to a more secure authentication system.

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WHO said that scammers impersonating in its emails have also increasingly targeted the general public in order to channel donations to a fictitious fund and not the authentic COVID-19 Solidary Response Fund.

WHO asks the public to remain vigilant against fraudulent emails and recommends the use of reliable sources to obtain factual information about COVID-19 and other health issues.

(IANS)

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