China on Monday said the World Health Organization agreed to probe origins of COVID-19 around the globe.

Addressing a news conference in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “Two experts from the World Health Organization arrived in China to conduct COVID-19 origin tracing work,” daily Global Times reported.

Hua said: “China and the WHO have agreed that origin tracing is a matter of science; therefore, the WHO will conduct similar investigations around the world.”

On Friday, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said two WHO experts were heading to China to interact with scientists there to study the transmission of coronavirus from animals to humans.

“As we continue to tackle the pandemic, we are also looking into the origins of the virus,” Adhanom said addressing a webinar.

The WHO move comes amid severe critique by the US and its allies that have been seeking probe into COVID-19 origins, which angered Beijing.

The WHO chief also said the global health experts will also prepare a scientific plan with their Chinese counterparts to identify the zoonotic source of the COVID-19 virus.

Adhanom said the scientists want to learn about the progress made in understanding the animal reservoir for COVID-19 and how the disease leapt to humans from animals.

“This will help lay the groundwork for the WHO-led international mission into finding the origins,” he said.

Across the world, the new coronavirus has claimed nearly 570,000 lives in 188 countries and regions since emerging in China last December.

Nearly 13 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the US, Brazil, India, and Russia currently being the worst-hit countries, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than half of all people infected with the virus — over 7.11 million worldwide — have recovered so far.

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