Global health experts have headed to China to set up an investigation into what caused the novel coronavirus.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that two of its specialists in animal health and epidemiology left for China to work with local scientists on organising the probe.
The two specialists were not named by the agency.
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, the advance team will study how the virus jumped from animals to humans.
The two scientists also plan to determine the scope and itinerary of the investigation.
COVID-19 is widely believed to have originated from a wholesale market in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, showing many similarities to a virus found in bats.
The WHO team is expected to study whether there had been an intermediary species that carried the virus and transmitted it to humans.
This comes as the global health body warned that the pandemic is "not under control," with the total number of infection cases worldwide having doubled in the last six weeks.
Speaking at a news conference Friday in Geneva, emergencies director Mike Ryan warned governments not to let their guards down, as infection cases can spread like "forest fire."
He said it's "very unlikely" that countries around the world can eradicate COVID-19, emphasizing some lockdown measures must remain in place.
He said countries must have firm surveillance like contact tracing and aggressive testing to stop small clusters of the infection becoming large and uncontrollable.
The director pointed out while some nations have effectively controlled the spread, there's "always the risk" of imported cases.
According to the WHO, there have been over 11.8 million cases of COVID-19, and more than 544-thousand deaths worldwide caused by the epidemic.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.