CHINA has hit back at suggestions the coronavirus may have originated in a lab as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the regime to “come clean”.
Communist Party officials dismissed the claim linked the pandemic to a Wuhan lab – a theory which is being probed by United States security services.
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China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the claim is “groundless", reports the state owned CGTN.
He said the matter was one to be investigated by scientists and medical experts as rumors continue to swirl about the origins of the coronavirus.
Questions have been asked about the source of the virus as scientists have yet to determine a concrete answer.
The working theory is that the virus came from bats, before jumping to another animal at a so-called wet market in Wuhan, and then mutating before being passed to humans.
Wuhan is however the location of two top virus research labs – the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control.
It has been speculated that the virus may have leaked from one of these labs, both of which are known to have been studying coronaviruses in bats.
US intelligence services are looking into the claim, according to President Donald Trump, and reportedly so are their opposite numbers in Britain.
Mr Zhao said: “Officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) have repeatedly said there's no evidence the virus was made in a lab, and many experts have also said the claim lacks scientific ground.”
He pledged China would continue to cooperate internationally, and urged all nations to work together against the pandemic.
His comments came as Mr Pompeo raised the possibility of a lab leak during an interview with Fox News.
Yesterday, he said the US wants the “"the Chinese government to open up" and help explain "exactly how this virus spread".
He also pointed out the fact the virus supposedly originated not far from the labs.
Mr Pompeo added: “There is still lots to learn. The United States government is working diligently to figure it out."
The President has also said the US Government continues to probe the Wuhan lab claims.
He said: "We’re hearing the story and we’ll see”.
It has been claimed a naturally occurring virus may have leaked from the lab due to lax safety protocols.
Fox News reported an intern at the lab became infected, who then transmitted it to her boyfriend, according to unnamed security sources.
Other reports have previously suggested lab technicians may have been sprayed with blood and unknowingly become infected.
WIV is known to have been actively probing viruses in bats, including recruiting experts on the subject just six days before China confirmed a new virus was emerging to WHO.
No concrete evidence has yet been presented which categorically links the lab with the coronavirus pandemic.
WIV have aggressively denied any suggestion the virus may have originated in its $37million lab – which is the most advanced and most secure of its kind in mainland China.
Suggestions have been batted around since the early days of the outbreak that the lab may be the source of Covid-19 as pressure ratchets up on China.
Scientists are reportedly happy that the virus was not manmade, but experts have not been able to discount the theory of an accidental leak.
China has previously suffered virus leaks, including SARS twice escaping from a Beijing lab.
It also emerged WIV's top scientist was "muzzled" after she successfully identified the coronavirus.
Mr Trump declined to reveal what he said to Chinese president Xi Jinping about the lab – saying “it's inappropriate right now”.
China is also facing ongoing scepticism about its virus infections, with just 82,000 cases and 3,342 deaths compared to more than 640,00 in the US and 28,000 deaths.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday US intelligence suggests the virus originated naturally, as leaked 2018 cables revealed concerns over the safety of the Wuhan lab.
The Sun Online revealed yesterday WIV took part in “fear experiments” on mice in a study funded by the US Government.
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