Wuhan lab head calls virus leak claims 'fabrication'

Updated: May 25, 2020, 08:12 IST | Agencies | New York

Director of institute insists he 'didn't even know of virus existence, so how can it be 'leaked?''

People wearing face masks on a tourist shipin Yangtze River in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on Saturday. Pic/AFP
People wearing face masks on a tourist shipin Yangtze River in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on Saturday. Pic/AFP

Claims promoted by the Trump administration that the global COVID-19 pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city are a 'pure fabrication'," the institute's director said.

Wang Yanyi was quoted by state media on Sunday as saying the institute did not have "any knowledge before that nor had we ever met, researched or kept the virus...We didn't even know about the existence of the virus, so how could it be leaked from our lab when we didn't have it?"

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said they suspect the virus that was first detected in Wuhan was somehow released from the laboratory. Most scientists say the pathogen that has infected 5.3 million and killed more than 3,42,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species likely sold at a wet market in Wuhan late last year

China reports 39 new cases
China has reported 39 new cases, including 36 asymptomatic patients — the majority of them from COVID-19 epicentre Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, health officials said on Sunday. Of the three confirmed patients, one is locally transmitted infection and two are imported cases, China's National Health Commission (NHC) said. The domestically transmitted case was reported in Jilin Province, it said.

US farmers euthanise 1.5 million chickens

COVID-19 outbreaks at meat processing plants are forcing North Carolina farmers to euthanise 1.5 million chickens, according to a state official. Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Joe Reardon told The News & Observer that this is the first time during the pandemic that farmers in the state have had to euthanise their animals. Roughly a third of the 1.5 million chickens already had been killed, Reardon said.

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