By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed a second phase of studies on the origin of the coronavirus in China, including audits of laboratories in Wuhan, but there is still no sign that the Chinese government would accept an additional international inquiry, said diplomats.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus presented the plan to member countries at a closed-door meeting on Friday, a day after saying that investigations are being hampered by a lack of raw data on the first days of dissemination of the new coronavirus in China.
+ China’s BC says it will move forward with pilot programs for digital yuan
A WHO-led team spent four weeks in and around Wuhan City with Chinese researchers, and said in a joint report released in March that the virus was likely transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.
But countries including the United States and some scientists are demanding more investigation, particularly from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was conducting research on bats.
The WHO plan calls for additional studies in China — but not in other countries — and specifically audits of laboratories around Wuhan, diplomats said.
The Chinese mission at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva did not respond to a request for comment.
China qualifies the theory that the virus may have escaped from a Wuhan laboratory as “absurd” and has repeatedly said that “politicizing” the issue would hamper investigations.
(Additional reporting by Cecile Mantovani)
+ Learn about the effectiveness of each vaccine against Covid-19