April 21 (UPI) -- The coronavirus disease that's disrupted life for billions of people around the world probably came from an animal and was not created in a laboratory, the World Health Organization said in an update Tuesday.
All evidence so far has indicated COVID-19 was not "manipulated or constructed" in a lab or anywhere else, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters at a briefing in Geneva.
"It is probable, likely that the virus is of animal origin," she said.
Chaib said the WHO's analysis concluded there had "certainly" been an intermediate animal host, most likely bats, by the time the virus infected humans.
By Tuesday, the number of cases reported worldwide so far approached 2.5 million and the death toll was close to 172,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the most cases, 788,000.
Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that his nation will move to gradually lift its lockdown starting May 4. He promised details of the plan by the end of this week and "a reasonable prediction."
"Let's stop being strict with our country," he wrote in a Facebook post. "The whole world is struggling. We can be proud of how we are facing this very hard test."
Italy's population of 60 million were placed under lockdown March 9 when it had fewer than 10,000 cases. Restrictions were tightened two weeks later to prohibit movements within Italy and close all non-essential businesses.
Conte said his government can't "abandon the line of maximum caution" to "indulge" public opinion, industry and companies that have demanded the lockdowns be lifted.
"We need to reopen on the basis of a program that will consider all details and cross-cross all the data."
In Spain, organizers on Tuesday canceled the San Fermin Fiesta this summer in Pamplona, best known for its "running of the bulls." The annual event typically attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. Organizers said it's not possible to stage the festival safely this year.
In Germany, officials said the famed Oktoberfest has also been canceled. It was scheduled to start Sept. 18.
Bavarian Minister President Markus Soder and Munich's Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter said staging the festival would be too risky.
"We are living in different times," he said. "And living with corona means living carefully."