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China rejects WHO plan for second phase of virus origin probe

July 23, 2021 10:41 am
Zeng Yixin said he was shocked by the proposal and that the terms were "impossible" to accept [Source: Reuters]

China has rejected the next stage of a World Health Organization (WHO) plan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO wants to audit laboratories in the area the virus was first identified.

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

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WHO experts said it was very unlikely the virus escaped from a Chinese lab, but the theory has endured.

Investigators were able to visit Wuhan – the city where the virus was first detected in December 2019 – in January this year.

But earlier this month WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined the terms of the inquiry’s next phase. This included looking at certain science research institutions.

He has now called on China to be more co-operative about the early stages of the outbreak.

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

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