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China calls for Covid-19 origin tracing in US after WHO probe in Wuhan

Pedestrians wearing protective masks ride on an escalator in Pudong's Lujiazui Financial District in Shanghai, China (Bloomberg)Premium
Pedestrians wearing protective masks ride on an escalator in Pudong's Lujiazui Financial District in Shanghai, China (Bloomberg)

  • The US had raised concern over possibility of the Chinese government's interference in the WHO's investigation
  • WHO investigators had said earlier last week that signs of the outbreak were much wider in Wuhan in December 2019 than previously thought

After a World Health Organisation (WHO) investigating the origins of coronavirus in China's Wuhan said that there is no evidence of its circulation in any animal species in China, Beijing has urged the global health body to do an origin-tracing study of the virus in the United States.

"(We hope) that following China's example, the US side will act in a positive, science-based and cooperative manner on the origin-tracing issue (and) invite WHO experts in for an origin-tracing study," said Wang Wenbin, Foreign Ministry spokesman.

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Similarly, Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at China's Center for Disease Control, said the US should now be "the focus" of global efforts to trace the virus, CNN reported.

The WHO team had recently stated four hypotheses on how the virus spread. Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the team said: "Our initial findings suggest that introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely passway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research."

"The findings suggest that a laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population," he added.

Dismissing that the virus got leaked from Wuhan's institute of virology, Embarek had said, "We also looked at Wuhan's institute of virology ... the laboratory and the state of the laboratory, and it was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place. We also know that lab incidents are, of course, extremely rare."

The US had raised concern over the findings and suggested the possibility of the Chinese government's interference in the WHO's investigation.

"We have deep concerns about the way in which the early findings of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process used to reach them," said Jake Sullivan, US National Security Adviser.

He had stressed on the importance of an investigation that is "free from intervention or alteration by the Chinese government" into the origin of Covid-19.

"To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, China must make available its data from the earliest days of the outbreak," he had added.

Wider outbreak

WHO investigators had said earlier last week that signs of the outbreak were much wider in Wuhan in December 2019 than previously thought.

They sought access to hundreds and thousands of blood samples from the city that China has not so far let them examine.

Embarek had told CNN that the mission had found several signs of the more wide-ranging 2019 spread, including establishing for the first time there were over a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan already in December.

With inputs from agencies.



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