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Corona-virus ‘Not Man-Made,’ US Intelligence dismisses One Theory

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WASHINGTON – U.S. intelligence agencies are dismissing at least one theory about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, saying evidence shows the virus was not engineered in a Chinese laboratory.
 
But officials say they are still looking into whether the outbreak, which originated in China, was triggered by human contact with animals or whether it began as the result of some scientific accident.
 
The U.S. intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a rare public statement on an ongoing investigation Thursday.
 
“As we do in all crises, the Community’s experts respond by surging resources and producing critical intelligence on issues vital to U.S. national security,” the statement said. “The IC (intelligence community) will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
 
The White House has been demanding a more thorough investigation into the origins of COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on statements from both China and the World Health Organization.
 
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters he had already seen some of the findings from the intelligence community’s probe.
 
“It’s coming in, and I’m getting pieces already. And we’re not happy about it,” he said.  “We are by far the largest contributor to WHO, world health, and they misled us.”
 
“Right now, they’re literally a pipe organ for China. That’s the way I view it,” Trump added.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday also questioned China’s transparency, and hinted Beijing may be continuing to put the world at risk.
 
“We don’t know precisely where this virus originated from. There are multiple labs that are continuing to conduct work,” he said. “We don’t know if they are operating at a level of security to prevent this from happening again.”
 
Talk that the COVID-19 virus was created in a Chinese lab, or escaped from a lab, has persisted for weeks, as have other theories, many of which have been discredited as rumors or as part of disinformation campaigns.
 
But Thursday’s statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would appear to indicate U.S. intelligence officials have come to a better understanding of the pandemic’s origins.
 
Two weeks ago, a U.S. intelligence official told VOA that while agencies were “actively and vigorously tracking down every piece of information,” the community had “not collectively agreed on any one theory.”

Reaction to statement

Some former U.S. intelligence officials, though, are viewing Thursday’s statement with a degree of suspicion, pointing to what they see as the president’s ongoing efforts to politicize the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

“It certainly is unusual, and reflects the politically charged nature of the topic as the Trump administration tries hard to deflect attention from its own performance during the pandemic,” said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA officer who has been critical of the administration. 

“The statement appears to be a compromise that makes the IC [intelligence community] appear to be working objectively without pouring cold water on the White House’s favorite rhetorical line about Chinese malfeasance,” said Pillar, now with Georgetown University.

Others, however, see the statement as a smart move, given the onslaught of disinformation that has surrounded the pandemic.

“[It’s] doubtful that this was spin or U.S. disinformation,” said Larry Pfeiffer, a former CIA chief of staff and former senior director of the White House Situation Room, who like Pillar has been critical of the White House’s handling of intelligence matters. “I give the ODNI credit for stepping up to the plate to add some clarity to the situation.”

The statement may also portend a greater public role for U.S. intelligence agencies going forward.

“These are trying times,” said Daniel Hoffman, a retired senior CIA officer. “There’s a lot of disinformation, misinformation and ignorance.”

That informational fog, according to Hoffman, is only compounded by China’s refusal to quickly and transparently come forward with all of the information it has on the origins of the virus.

“We’re relying on our intelligence community to fill in the gaps in what we know,” he said. 

Health

BREAKING: ONDO HEALTH COMMISSIONER DIES OF CORONAVIRUS

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Ondo state commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro has died of COVID- 19 infections

Adegbenro was said to have died at the state infectious disease hospital.

His death came a day after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu announced that he has tested positive for COVID- 19.

A native of Ilara-Mokin, Ifedore, Adegbenro could not survive

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BREAKING: Nigeria Records 553 New Cases of COVID-19

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Nigeria has recorded the highest number of daily new cases of COVID-19.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC tweetedthat the five hundred and fifty three (553) new cases of COVID-19 were reported as follows;Lagos-378
FCT-52
Delta-23
Edo-22
Rivers-14
Ogun-13
Kaduna-12
Kano-9
Borno-7
Katsina-6
Jigawa-5
Oyo-5
Yobe-3
Plateau-3
Osun-1

The total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria now stands at nine thousand eight hundred and fifty five (9855), 2856 has been discharged and the number of deaths increased to 273.
553 NEW CASES OF #COVID19;
LAGOS-378
FCT-52
DELTA-23
EDO-22
RIVERS-14
OGUN-13
KADUNA-12
KANO-9
BORNO-7
KATSINA-6
JIGAWA-5
OYO-5
YOBE-3
PLATEAU-3
OSUN-1

9855 CASES OF #COVID19NIGERIA
DISCHARGED: 2856
DEATHS: 273

— NCDC (@NCDCGOV) MAY 30, 2020

Below is a breakdown of the cases according to states;

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Stop Asking Me About Chinese Doctors, Minister Of Health Tells Nigerians

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday, said he would really be grateful if Nigerians stopped asking him about the whereabouts of the Chinese medical team.

He said; “On the Chinese Doctors, I want to, first of all, explain that I think not all of them were doctors and I think that I heard that some of them are Technicians but they are staff of CCECC.

“The Ministry of Health is not their host. So, we cannot always explain what happened to them or where they are. There seems to be a lot of interest in these doctors but they are staff of the company and I think they are on the company visa.

“So, I will be very happy if you do not ask me about where they are because they are not really our guests in that sense. But we have been able to learn some things from them by interacting with them on their experiences in their country.We have shared experiences as to what they did in their country, how they managed their Covid-19”.

Vanguard recalls that the PTF had on April 6 defended the coming of the Chinese team, saying every country needs all the help it can get and that even the “almighty United States of America USA” is seeking external help.

According to the PTF, the Chinese will only offer their experiences and expertise as they are not accredited by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to ply their trade in the country. He, however, said no country on earth has greater experience than China when it comes to managing the Covid-19.

The SGF had said; “One major support that has attracted public commentaries is the offer by CCECC, a Chinese company to import about 256 equipment and items in different quantities, notable amongst which are, 1,300,000 medical masks, over 150,000 pieces of assorted personal protective equipment as well as 50 medical ventilators.

“The company has also proposed, on its own, to sponsor public health experts to help strengthen our public health capacity and advise on processes and procedures.

“However, I wish to clarify that all Countries of the world are seeking assistance and are receiving help in the fight against COVID-19. Even the ‘almighty’ United States is looking for heal elsewhere.

“The support coming from China is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative by CCECC, a company with total value of infrastructure contracts worth over $10 billion in Nigeria.

“The professionals that have been invited from China are public health specialists and medical engineers that will support Nigeria’s capacity in managing the Pandemic on advisory basis when necessary while drawing from the experience of the Chinese.

“In no way shall there be case management and interface with patients. They will train our manpower, advise on procedures and methods, install and test the equipment donated before handing them over.

“I, therefore, use this medium to appeal to our medical professionals to see the positive aspects of this gesture as an extension of development in the field of medicine.

The PTF recognizes and respects the competence and capability of Nigerian Doctors and other medical personnel.This is a state of war against the coronavirus and time should not be devoted to unhelpful controversies”.

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