The World Health Organisation (WHO) called yesterday for all countries to work together to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, a day after the Chinese government rejected plans for more checks on laboratories and markets in its territory.
The first human cases of Covid-19 were reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
China has repeatedly dismissed theories that the virus leaked from one of its laboratories.
The WHO this month proposed a follow-up to earlier investigations in China.
But Zeng Yixin, vice-minister of China’s National Health Commission, said on Thursday that Beijing would not accept the proposal as it stood.
When asked about China’s rejection, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a UN briefing in Geneva: “This is not about politics, it’s not about a blame game.”
“It is about basically a requirement we all have to try to understand how the pathogen came into the human population,” he added. “In this sense, countries really have the responsibility to work together and to work with WHO in a spirit of partnership.”
A WHO-led team spent four weeks in and around Wuhan with Chinese scientists and said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal but that further research was needed.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that the investigation was hampered by the lack of raw data on the first days of spread there.
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