WHO: Coronavirus from new Beijing cluster closely related to the European strain
Updated 13:12, 20-Jun-2020

The coronavirus from a new local cluster in the Chinese capital is closely related to the European strain, an official from the World Health Organization said on Friday.

"As we understand it, the virus is closely related to the European strain," Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on COVID-19 said. 

It came after Beijing released and shared the gene sequence data of the COVID-19 virus from the Xinfadi market infection cluster on Thursday.

Read more:

China releases gene sequence data of Beijing COVID-19 strain

In light of the recent COVID-19 cluster outbreaks in China, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) expert commended Beijing for its efforts to control its spread.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the Health Emergencies Program of the WHO, made the remark at a press conference in Geneva on Friday.

Illustrating the good examples of Germany, Japan and South Korea, Ryan said: "I think our colleagues in Beijing as well are mounting a very large-scale response... in an attempt to prevent that from getting out of hand," underscoring the importance of rapid detection, investigation and suppression of cluster cases.

"You get a few cases occurring and it then a super spreading event or something happening where there's a large amplification of the disease. And when that happens, you want to avoid that first amplification turning back into community transmission," he noted.

Ryan noted that it has become difficult to discern whether the rise in COVID-19 cases in many countries has been due to increased testing or the result of further spreading.

"It's very important at that time to look at things like hospitalizations and deaths. If you start to see hospitalizations going up, that's not because of testing; if you start to see the number of people dying going up unexpectedly, that's not because of testing," he emphasized.

"What we really want to see is that the ability to use data, to use investigation, to use testing, to use physical and social measures in an agile, adaptive, sensitive way where you're doing the absolute minimum you need to do to suppress the infection or the maximum you need to do with the minimum disruption of society," he added.

(With input from Xinhua)