China’s chief medical advisor DENIES the coronavirus originates in Wuhan as he blasts the claim as ‘irresponsible’
- Epidemiologist Dr Zhong Nanshan rebuked the widely held belief yesterday
- ‘It is irresponsible to conclude lightly before [the matter] is clarified,’ he said
- His statement came as cases are falling rapidly in China but soaring globally
- A Beijing’s spokesperson suggested the virus was brought to Wuhan by the US
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Beijing’s top coronavirus expert has denied that the bug originated in Wuhan and slammed such claim as ‘irresponsible’.
‘The epidemic of the novel coronavirus pneumonia indeed took place in China, in Wuhan… but it does not mean its source is in Wuhan,’ said Dr Zhong Nanshan, the leader of a team of experts appointed by China to tackle the health crisis.
With cases falling rapidly in China and soaring abroad, Beijing is now rejecting the widely held assessment that the city of Wuhan is the birthplace of the outbreak.
Epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, 83, said at a press conference yesterday that no evidence suggested the virus originated in Wuhan. ‘The epidemic of the novel coronavirus pneumonia indeed took place in China, in Wuhan… but it does not mean its source is in Wuhan,’ he said
Chinese officials today reported no new cases in Wuhan, as well as its surrounding Hubei Province, for the first time after the epidemic emerged in late December. A worker is pictured disinfecting a hospital in Wuhan, the former epicentre of the global health crisis, on Thursday
Chinese officials today reported no new cases in Wuhan, as well as its surrounding Hubei Province, for the first time after the epidemic emerged in late December.
Dr Zhong, 83, said at a press conference yesterday that no evidence suggested the virus originated in Wuhan, a provincial capital city of more than 11 million people.
‘It is a scientific problem. I think it is irresponsible to conclude lightly before [the matter] is clarified,’ the epidemiologist said at the 46th Coronavirus Prevention Media Conference hosted by the government of Guangzhou in southern China.
This is the second time Dr Zhong has rebuked the widely held belief.
He made similar claims on February 27 after the number of daily cases in the country started to drop.
A Beijing spokesperson said last week that the coronavirus might have been brought to Wuhan by the US military in a tweet.
However in January, as the epidemic spread fast in China, the country’s experts stated the source of the virus was wild animals sold at a seafood market in Wuhan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (pictured) said in a tweet that the U.S. lacked transparency and accused American military members of bringing the coronavirus to Wuhan
China’s health ministry today announced the coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province had no new cases of the deadly contagion which has ripped across the globe.
The ministry said Thursday that results over the past 24 hours showed 34 new cases, all detected in people arriving from abroad.
In the central province of Hubei, there were eight new deaths, with the provincial capital Wuhan accounting for six of the fatalities.
Of the 34 imported infections, Beijing accounted for 21 cases, a daily record for the city.
It brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,928, including 3,245 deaths.
A police officer stands guard outside of Huanan Seafood Wholesale market in Wuhan. Chinese experts have previously claimed that the source of the virus is wild animals sold at the market
China has only just begun loosening draconian travel restrictions within the country, but has stepped-up 14-day quarantine regulations on those arriving in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere from overseas, amid expectations of a new influx of students and others returning home.
More than 70,000 people have been released from the hospital and 7,263 remain in treatment.
Wuhan is expected to see new coronavirus infections dry up by mid-to-late March and its lockdown may be lifted once there are no new cases for 14 days, the state-backed China Daily reported.
However, strict disease control and prevention measures will still be needed to prevent a possible rebound, China Daily reported on Thursday, citing epidemiologist Li Lanjuan.
China admitted the coronavirus originated in Wuhan in January
A woman walks in front of the closed Huanan wholesale seafood market on January 12
The push to question the origin of the disease contradicts China’s own initial assessment about the source of the virus, which has now killed nearly 5,000 people worldwide.
Gao Fu, head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in January ‘we now know the source of the virus is wild animals sold at the seafood market’ in Wuhan.
Chinese authorities themselves saw Wuhan and the rest of Hubei province as a threat as they placed the region of 56 million people under strict quarantine to contain the epidemic.
But Beijing began sowing doubts in late February, when Zhong Nanshan, a respected expert affiliated with the National Health Commission, told reporters ‘the epidemic first appeared in China, but didn’t necessarily originate in China’.
Scientists, however, have long suspected that the virus jumped from an animal at the Wuhan market to a human before spreading globally.
The World Health Organization has said that while the exact path the virus took between its animal source and humans is still unclear, COVID-19 was ‘unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019’.
Christl Donnelly, a professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London, said genetic analysis of coronavirus samples collected from around the world showed a common ancestor in China.
‘This is not in any way blaming a particular country,’ she told AFP.