3 min read.Updated: 20 Apr 2020, 05:28 PM ISTK J M Varma, PTI
The overall death toll in China as of Sunday stood at 4,632 after its recent revision of figures of fatalities in Wuhan by 50%
The US has launched an investigation into whether the deadly virus 'escaped' from the Wuhan Institute of Virology
China on Monday firmly rejected US President Donald Trump’s demand to allow an American team into Wuhan to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus, saying it was also a "victim and not a culprit" of the covid-19.
Describing the novel coronavirus as a plague, Trump on Sunday said that he is not happy with China where the pandemic emerged in December last year in Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province.
"We spoke to them (Chinese) a long time ago about going in. We want to go in. We want to see what's going on. And we weren't exactly invited, I can tell you that," Trump told reporters.
The US has launched an investigation into whether the deadly virus "escaped" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Reacting to Trump's comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here that "the virus is the common enemy for all mankind".
"It may appear at anytime anywhere in the world. Like any other country, China is attacked by this virus. China is a victim instead of the culprit. We are not co-worker for this virus," he said in a hard-hitting response to Trump’s plan to send a US probe team.
As the covid-19 death toll in US crossed 41,000 and the total infections more than 764,000, highest in the world, Trump and several US politicians pressed for action against China for not sharing enough details of the virus early on, when it first emerged in Wuhan.
The overall death toll in China as of Sunday stood at 4,632 after its recent revision of figures of fatalities in Wuhan by 50%.
Geng said, "since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has been acting in an open, transparent and responsible manner with the most thorough and strong measures to stop the spread of the covid-19".
He said China’s efforts to contain the virus has provided “valuable experience for the international community" to deal with the outbreak in their own countries.
"This is also part of our important contribution. The international community appreciated China for doing this," he said.
Countering US politicians' assertions that China should be sued for so many deaths in the world, Geng said, "I don’t remember there are any precedence" for such a prosecution.
Pointing to H1N1 influenza which was detected in US 2009 as well as HIV/AIDS and the 2008 financial crisis in America which turned into global economic crisis, Geng asked, "did anyone ask US accountability?"
He also turned down Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne's call for an international inquiry into coronavirus including its origins in China.
Payne said there should be a global inquiry without the involvement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which has been accused by America of siding with China.
Geng said, "the remarks by FM of Australia are totally groundless. We express grave concern and firmly reject that".
He said China’s performance in containing the virus is “well recognised. Any doubt of transparency is not in line with the facts and also disrespects the arduous efforts and huge scarifies made by Chinese people".
About allegations that the virus originated in Wuhan, Geng said “origin of virus is a serious scientific issue, which requires an assessment from scientists. We hope Australia (will) look at the issue in objective and meticulous manner."
On French Nobel prize winning scientist Luc Montagnier’s remarks that the covid-19 virus came from a lab, and is the result of an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against the HIV/AIDS, Geng said a number of scientists and the WHO said there is no evidence for such an allegation.
Citing the interview of Yuan Zhiming, of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), Geng said he denied that the covid-19 has escaped from the lab.
Yuan said such allegations are “entirely based on speculation. Part of the purpose is to confuse people and interfere with our anti-epidemic and scientific activities."
Geng also refuted Trump’s economic advisor Peter Navarro’s allegations that China is hoarding vital medical gear required in hospitals to treat coronavirus patients.
"It is misleading to say China is hoarding PPEs (personal protection equipment)," he said.
Geng said that from March 1 to April 17, China has provided 1.64 billion masks, 29.19 million surgical protective suits, 156 invasive ventilators and 4254 non-invasive ventilators.
Navarro should stop slandering and focus more on containing the spread of covid-19 in US, Geng said.
The coronavirus, which emerged in China in December last year, has killed over 160,000 and infected more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
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