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China’s overseas minister spins COVID-19 origins away from China

The Chinese Embassy in the US on Monday promoted comments from the foreign minister trying to cast doubt that the coronavirus pandemic originated in China.

“Where the epidemic originated and who is ‘patient zero’ requires scientific research. No one has the right to politicize the origin-tracing & label the virus. No factual basis to blame China for one’s own ineffective response,” the embassy tweeted, linking to Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s comments reported in state-run media.

Wang was responding to a question about China not sharing critical information that allowed COVID-19 to spread worldwide during a news conference last week with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide in Oslo.

“What you have said is not the fact,” he replied, according to the Xinhua News Agency, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. “China is the first country to report the epidemic, which does not mean that the novel coronavirus epidemic originated in China.”

He claimed scientists and medical experts would need to examine the question of “patient zero,” adding that the coronavirus was unknown before the outbreak was first reported in the city of Wuhan in December.

Wang went on to say Beijing identified the pathogen, charted and shared its gene sequence and shut down Wuhan and its population of 10 million people to stop its spread.

“But we took this decision nonetheless on the principle that people’s lives and health are paramount,” he said.

According to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus database, there are now more than 25 million cases globally.

And more than 840,000 have died from the virus.

Patient zero has never been identified, but health experts say any investigation would require the full assistance of Chinese authorities.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked about it in May, said China refuses to allow access.

“It’s not even that in the moment they couldn’t do the right thing; they continue to be opaque and they continue to deny access for this important information that our researchers, our epidemiologists need,” he said in May.

President Trump cut the US’ ties with the World Health Organization in May, accusing the global agency of being under China’s influence and faulting it for its handling of the coronavirus.

The president has also blasted China for inaccurately reporting the number of cases it had and for not communicating the severity of the disease after the initial outbreak in December.

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