President Donald Trump said China may be “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus. Amid calls for Chinese officials to be more transparent about the origin of COVID-19 and the number of cases within their borders, the lab at the center of the controversy has finally made a statement.
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Wuhan lab denies connection to COVID-19
Bloomberg reports that a top official at the Wuhan, China lab that's been at the center of controversy said there's "absolutely no way" the coronavirus originated there. Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory Director Yuan Zhiming denied any connection between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and COVID-19. Yuan made the comment in an interview with the state-run China Global Television Network over the weekend.
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He also denied theories that "patient zero" was someone who had contact with the lab. News reports have suggested that the first person to be infected with COVID-19 was an intern who worked at the institute.
However, Yuan said none of their employees, retirees or student researchers were infected with the coronavirus. He also blamed U.S. Senator Tom Cotton and journalists with The Washington Post for "deliberately leading people" to mistrust the Wuhan lab.
On Saturday, President Trump said China should face consequences if it is found to be "knowingly responsible" for the pandemic.
"If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake," he said during his White House briefing on Saturday. "But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, I mean, then sure there should be consequences."
Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox News on Sunday that they know ground zero for the coronavirus was "within a few miles" of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He said assuming that the simplest explanation is the most likely one, China must prove that the coronavirus didn't come from that lab.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been studying bat coronaviruses for years. The Washington Post reported on cables about that research in which U.S. officials warned about safety protocols at the lab.
Yuan told CCTN on Saturday that there's no evidence that the lab was the source of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Investigation into Wuhan lab connection underway
Trump said on Sunday that the U.S. wants investigators to go to China to look into the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. officials have previously asked China to allow investigators in, but Beijing has refused. The White House also accuses China of not being transparent about the number of coronavirus cases it has had within its borders.
Numerous news reports have also called those numbers into question. China's outbreak totals are much smaller than nations with populations that are a fraction of the size of its population. The U.S. has reported nearly 790,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 42,000 deaths from the disease.