China rejects WHO plan for second phase of virus origin probe

China rejects WHO plan for second phase of virus origin probe
Zeng Yixin said he was shocked by the proposal and that the terms were "impossible" to accept. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: China has rejected the next stage of a World Health Organization plan to investigate the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global health body wants to audit laboratories in the area where the coronavirus was first identified.

But Zeng Yixin, deputy health minister of China, said this showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance toward science”.

Experts of WHO said it was very unlikely Covid-19 escaped from a Chinese lab, but the theory has endured.

Investigators from WHO were able to visit Wuhan – the city where Covid-19 was first detected in December 2019 – in January of this year.

But earlier this month, WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined the terms of the inquiry’s next phase, which includes looking at certain science research institutions.

Mr Ghebreyesus has now called on Beijing to be more co-operative about the early stages of the outbreak.

He urged China to provide raw patient data that had not been shared during the first probe and to “be transparent, to be open and co-operate” with investigators.

Mr Zeng said while speaking at a press conference on Thursday that he was extremely surprised by the WHO proposal because it focused on alleged violations of China’s laboratory protocols.

The Chinese deputy health minister said it was “impossible” for China to accept the terms, adding that the country had submitted its own origins-tracing recommendations.

Mr Zeng said: “We hope the WHO would seriously review the considerations and suggestions made by Chinese experts and truly treat the origin tracing of the Covid-19 virus as a scientific matter, and get rid of political interference.”

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