Western nations are mounting pressure on China to admit that the deadly coronavirus that has paralysed the world slipped out of Wuhan lab.
Leading the pressure is United States, the worst affected by the virus. Confirmed cases in the country are hurtling towards the 700,000 mark and 35,000 people have died.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 2.1 million people and killed about 140,000, according to worldometers.info.
The U.S. said it is probing the Wuhan lab connection to the virus crisis.
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The new focus on China’s role came as the world wrestles with a collapsed economy that has created historic jobless numbers.
President Donald Trump, who initially downplayed the illness has been attacking China for weeks. His campaign has won converts, especially among other Western nations.
This was evident after a videoconference among leaders of the Group of Seven industrialised democracies.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told reporters there could be no “business as usual” with China. “We’ll have to ask the hard questions about how it came about and how it couldn’t have been stopped earlier,” said Raab.
Raab has been acting for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering from the virus.
French President Emmanuel Macron warned not to be “naive” in believing China has handled the outbreak well. “There are clearly things that have happened that we don’t know about,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
COVID-19 first emerged late last year in Wuhan, with China saying it was suspected to have been transmitted to humans at a meat market that butchered exotic animals. The Washington Post and Fox News reported there were growing suspicions the virus in fact slipped out of a sensitive laboratory in Wuhan.
The lab was said to be studying bats, blamed for the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003. Neither outlet suggested the virus was spread deliberately.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China should have been more transparent about the laboratory. “We’re doing a full investigation of everything we can to learn how it is the case that this virus got away, got out into the world and now has created so much tragedy — so much death,” Pompeo told Fox News.