China says WHO has said no evidence coronavirus was made in a lab

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday the World Health Organization has said there is no evidence that the coronavirus originated in a lab in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the epidemic first emerged in late 2019.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's foreign ministry said on Thursday (April 16) that the World Health Organisation has said there is no evidence that the coronavirus which has infected more than two million people globally was made in a lab.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remark in response to a question about accusations the coronavirus originated in a lab in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the epidemic first emerged in late 2019.

United States President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (April 15) that his government is trying to determine whether the coronavirus emanated from a lab in Wuhan, China, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Beijing "needs to come clean" on what it knows.

The source of the virus remains a mystery. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that US intelligence indicates that the coronavirus likely occurred naturally, as opposed to being created in a laboratory in China, but there is no certainty either way.

Fox News reported on Wednesday that the virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory not as a bioweapon, but as part of China's effort to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the US.

This report and others have suggested the Wuhan lab where virology experiments take place and lax safety standards there led to someone getting infected and appearing at a nearby wet market, where the virus began to spread.

At a White House news conference, Mr Trump was asked about the reports of the virus escaping from the Wuhan lab, and he said he was aware of them.

"We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened," he said.