US unified Report, Coronavirus Originated from Chinese Lab
US state department cables show that embassy officials were worried about biosecurity at a virus lab in Wuhan, China. The lab is in the same city where the coronavirus outbreak first came to the world's attention.
And President Donald Trump has said the US government is looking into unverified reports that the virus escaped from a laboratory.
The Washington Post newspaper has reported information obtained from diplomatic cables. They show that, in 2018, US science diplomats were sent on repeated visits to a Chinese research facility. Officials sent two warnings to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab.
The column says the officials were worried about safety and management weaknesses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and called for more help.
It also claims diplomats were concerned the lab's research on bat coronaviruses could risk a new Sars-like pandemic. The newspaper says the cables fuelled more recent discussions in the US government about whether the WIV or another lab in Wuhan could have been the source of the virus behind the current pandemic.
In addition, Fox News has also issued a report promoting the lab origin theory.
The outbreak came to light late last year when early cases were linked to a food market in Wuhan. But despite rampant online speculation, there is no evidence of any kind that the Sars-CoV-2 virus (which causes Covid-19) was released accidentally from a lab.
On Thursday, China foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian addressed the matter at a news conference , telling journalists the World Health Organization's officials "have said multiple times there is no evidence the new coronavirus was created in a laboratory".
President Donald Trump, who has been coming under fire over his administration's response to the pandemic, said the US government is investigating the lab theory.
China has repeatedly been accused of lacking transparency in the early stages of the outbreak, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Beijing "needs to come clean" on what they know.
Amid this war of words between the countries, the painstaking - and largely unseen - scientific work to trace the origin of the virus will continue.
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