Melita Vujnovic, the representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to Russia, has said that the novel coronavirus could have existed in a dormant state long before its outbreak in late December last year.
"WHO has established a large team that will work together with Chinese scientists to analyse the origin of the virus," Vujnovic said in a recent interview with RIA Novosti news agency.
"This virus lived in animals and at some point passed to humans. It's hard to say when and where this happened. It's being investigated. Viruses can be found in waste water. But nothing can be said specifically," she said, reports Xinhua.
The novel coronavirus has existed worldwide and broke out whenever and wherever favourable conditions occurred rather than starting in China, Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford and a visiting professor at Newcastle University, said earlier this month.
Spanish virologists have discovered traces of the novel coronavirus in a sample of Barcelona waste water collected in March 2019, nine months prior to the virus outbreak in China.
According to the Italian National Institute of Health, samples of sewage water from Milan and Turin showed traces of the novel coronavirus on December 18, long before the country's first confirmed cases.
Vujnovic said that scientists are studying these samples and if there is any "revolutionary result," the WHO will immediately announce it.
The official funeral for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon will be held online this week over coronavirus concerns, his funeral committee said Sunday.
The announcement comes amid a heated social debate over how big a funeral should be arranged for Park, who was found dead on Friday.
He reportedly had been involved in sexual harassment allegations.
Lawmaker Park Hong-keun, who works for the interim funeral committee, told reporters that the online funeral will be held inside Seoul City Hall on Monday morning. He said the committee aimed to support a government-led anti-virus campaign and hold a “humble” funeral.
The lawmaker said about 100 people, including the bereaved family, are expected to attend the funeral, which will be broadcast live on YouTube. He said the funeral will include silent tributes, the laying of florals, video featuring the mayor and commemorative speeches.
Park Hong-keun said that as of 1 a.m. Sunday, around 18,000 people had paid their respects to the mayor at two mourning sites in Seoul, one at a hospital and the other at a plaza near City Hall. About 922,000 people had condoled the mayor’s death at a city-run online mourning site as of Sunday afternoon.
While the death has caused an outpouring of sympathy, many South Koreans have demanded that authorities investigate the reported allegations against Park and voiced opposition to a large-scale funeral paid for with taxpayer money.
A petition filed with the presidential office opposing such a funeral had garnered more than 535,000 signatures as of Sunday afternoon. “Holding a quiet, family funeral should be proper,” the petition says.
Seoul city officials said Monday's online funeral would be an official event paid for with city funds.
Police said there was no sign of homicide when Park's body was discovered. But they’ve refused to disclose the exact cause of his death. Seoul officials said Friday that what they described as Park’s “will” was found at his residence.
Police launched massive searches for Park, 64, on Thursday, after his daughter had called police and reported her father missing. While the searches were underway, South Korean media reported that one of Park’s secretaries had lodged a complaint with police on Wednesday over alleged sexual harassment.
Police later confirmed that a complaint against Park had been filed but refused to provide further details, including whether the complaint was about sexual behavior.
Taiwan held various public events after keeping its coronavirus outbreak to a few hundred cases and wrapped up an annual film festival with an awards ceremony Saturday night.
Actors and others lined up for photo shoots with no social distancing, and participants didn’t wear masks in historic Zhongshan Hall in Taipei.
Taiwan, with a population of about 23 million people, has had 451 confirmed cases and seven deaths.
A baseball game in the city of Taichung on Saturday drew more than 10,000 fans for the first time this season, the official Central News Agency said.
Health authorities said last month that fans would be allowed to sit in alternate seats and no longer would have to wear masks, except when leaving their seats. Authorities have been gradually allowing larger crowds since play began in April with no fans.
The horror film “Detention,” set during martial law in Taiwan in the 1960s, was the biggest winner at the Taipei Film Festival, taking six awards including the Grand Prize and Best Actress for 22-year-old Gingle Wang.
Chang Jung-chi, the Best Director winner for “We Are Champions,” said the virus outbreak had forced him to slow down his work. “This comes to me like a friend patting my shoulder and saying, ‘Hang in there,’ ” he said.
Ruling People's Action Party (PAP) won the Singapore's general election, Returning Officer Tan Meng Dui said on Saturday.
The party got 83 parliamentary seats of the 93.
The PAP won the election with 61.24 percent of votes, compared to 69.86 percent in last election in 2015.
The Workers' Party (WP), which got six seats in the 2015 election, won 10 seats this year.
A total of 191 candidates from 11 political parties and an independent candidate contented for 93 seats in the election, which is organized into 14 Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) and 17 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs).
The PAP won the 83 seats from 13 SMCs and 15 GRCs, while WP retained the 10 seats from Hougang SMC, Aljunied GRC and Sengkang GRC.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his team won Ang Mo Kio GRC with 71.91 percent of the votes.
Lee told a press conference that the percentage of popular votes the PAP won in the election was not as high as he had hoped. Nevertheless, the result reflected broad-based supports for the PAP, he added.
The prime minister, also PAP's secretary-general, said he was honored and humbled by the faith Singaporeans had put in the ruling party and the heavy responsibility Singaporeans had entrusted with the party.
"I will use this mandate responsibly to deal with COVID-19 and economic downturn, and to take us safely through the crisis and beyond," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, along with his East Coast GRC team members, won with 53.41 percent of the votes. Heng moved from Tampines GRC to East Coast GRC this year.
The PAP took 83 of the 89 seats in the 2015 election with 69.86 percent of the popular votes, which was higher than the 60.14-percent gain in 2011.
India’s security forces killed six separatist Naga militants during an exchange of gunfire in a northeastern state bordering Myanmar, said Indian Police.
The fighting took place early Saturday as India’s paramilitary soldiers and police officers raided a militant hideout in a thick forest in Arunachal Pradesh state, said state police chief R.P. Upadhayay.
One soldier was injured in the fighting, but his condition is stable, he said.
The security forces recovered six assault rifles, 500 bullets and two homemade bombs from the rebels, he said.
Upadhayay said the insurgents belonged to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) group, which demands an independent homeland in India’s northeast, where nearly 2 million Naga tribespeople live mainly in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh state.
The insurgents use their hideouts in Myanmar through Arunachal Pradesh state.
The group is in peace talks with the Indian government since 1997. It signed a preliminary agreement in 2015. It observes a cease-fire in Nagaland state, but attacks government forces elsewhere in the region.