Wuhan's Huanan seafood market may have conditions for the spread of the coronavirus, but there is no evidence that the virus originated there, according to World Health Organization (WHO) expert Vladimir Dedkov, who's part of the team conducting field trips in Wuhan.
"The market is very far from perfect... It is not for sure that it happened there, there is no evidence that the virus originated there, maybe the virus appeared in another place, but hypothetically, there are all conditions for the spread of the virus there," Dedkov said in an interview with Sputnik News on Thursday.
Dedkov is also deputy director for scientific work at the St. Petersburg Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Russia.
The Huanan seafood market was found linked to an early cluster of COVID-19 cases, but scientists have yet to come to an unequivocal conclusion regarding the role it played in the contagion.
The WHO team has been visiting several locations in Wuhan, including hospitals where COVID-19 patients were treated during the early stage of the outbreak and markets that were linked to early cluster infections.
On Wednesday, the team also visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which had been accused of leaking the coronavirus. Dedkov also refuted the theory of a virus leakage from there after the visit.
"It is well organized. I do not know who criticized them, the laboratory is perfectly equipped. It is hard for me to imagine that something could have leaked from there," Dedkov said.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology issued an open letter last February, saying the assumptions were false rumors and the conscience of the staff in the institute was "absolutely clear."
(With input from Xinhua.)