A World Health Organisation (WHO) team, currently in Wuhan, China, says the identity of the very first case of Covid-19 – the so-called ‘patient zero’ – may never be identified as it called on nations to step up cooperation and information sharing in an effort to stop the deadly virus which has so far claimed over 2 million lives across the world.

“We need to be very careful about the use of the phrase ‘patient zero’ which many people indicate as the first initial case. We may never find who the patient zero was,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19.

WHO is on a fact-finding tour in the Chinese city of Wuhan, widely regarded as the epicentre of the pandemic. These assertions, though, have been disputed by Beijing.

While China largely succeeded in its efforts to contain the virus with its two-month lockdown imposed on Wuhan at the start of the outbreak, it has recently seen an uptick in new cases, reporting 130 new infections on Friday – a far cry from the numbers seen in the US or Europe however.

New strain driving infections

The surge in global cases is believed to be driven by new mutant strains of the virus that are arguably much more contagious.

The new Covid-19 variants particularly “require a strong and quick effort in research, collaboration between the research teams and sharing of information,” Professor Didier Houssin, the head of the WHO Emergency Committee said in China.

“We are in a race between the virus that is going to continue to mutate in order to spread more easily and the humanity that has to try and stop its spreading.”

Calling the world “paralyzed” and “confused,” Houssin added that in a “paralyzed confused” world there is a need to develop global “scientifically based guidance about how best to facilitate travel in a safe manner to avoid shutting down air traffic altogether, while at the same making sure the virus is contained.”

Failure to break chain of transmission

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the reason why the deadly virus is still wreaking havoc around the world is the failure to break the chain of transmission “at a community level or within households.”

The more the virus is suppressed the less opportunity it has to mutate. We need to be more efficient than the virus

WHO also hopes vaccines would help to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

But, as Houssin points out, the 2021 vaccination targets set by WHO will see just around 20% of the global population being given shots.

This as the total number of Covid-19 infections in the world surpassed 93.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The total number of Covid-19-linked deaths has topped 2 million.


Presh JM Reporter

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