This is not the right time to investigate COVID-19 origin: UK minister

UK Housing Minister Robert Jenrick says that as worldwide efforts are on the rise to contain the COVID-19, this is not the right time to blame any country for coronavirus origin. He specifically pointed towards China which the US believes is responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
UK Housing Minister Robert Jenrick told reporters there will be a time when Britain will need to “consider” the roles of other countries in the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic but, he warned, that time is “not now.” The Wuhan Institute of Virology was the main focus of the minister, where the virus is believed to have emerged.

Asked by a reporter about the possibility of investigating China’s role in the start of the pandemic –the virus is believed to have begun in the city of Wuhan– and even of seeking reparations from its government, Jenrick answered: “There will come a time when we will want to analyze the origins of the virus in detail and consider the actions of other countries, but that’s not now.”

Read more: Trump confident about Coronavirus vaccine by end of this year

While the statement leaves open the potential for a strained relationship between the UK and China, the tone is nowhere near as harsh as that of Britain’s ally America.

US President Donald Trump has recently made it clear on multiple occasions he sees China as partly responsible for the spread of the virus, blaming the Chinese government for not acting and warning other countries quickly enough.

Trump even suggested on Thursday he has seen evidence that the virus began in a Chinese laboratory, a statement that has fueled conspiracy theories.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology: Main focus of controversy 

The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) was established in 1956. It is the only institute specializing in virology, viral pathology, and virus technology among 19 other biological and biomedical research institutes in CAS.

Different types of viruses are being examined at this lab, which makes it highly sensitive. The coronavirus is believed to have emerged from this lab as the US is trying to tie the origin of the outbreak to this lab.

A fringe theory suggests that the new coronavirus leaked by accident from a lab in Wuhan.

Researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) study infectious diseases, including coronaviruses, and did before the pandemic started. So as questions about how the pandemic started to continue to go unanswered, the lab has drawn scrutiny.

Read more: China starts developing another vaccine against the novel coronavirus

The WIV houses China’s only Biosafety-level-4 laboratory. Scientists study the most dangerous and infectious microbes known to humankind in these types of facilities.

Some of the institute’s researchers, including virologist Shi Zhengli, have collected, sampled, and studied coronaviruses that circulate Chinese bats.

In 2013, Shi and her collaborators pinpointed the bat population most likely responsible for spreading SARS, in the Shitou Cave near Kunming.

Therefore, this Wuhan lab is the main focus of controversy throughout the coronavirus epidemic. Although no evidence has been provided yet to back up these claims, the Chinese Government is not allowing any inspection of this lab which can make the investigation process further easy and manageable.

Though the UK Housing Minister would not say what the evidence was, the president doubled down on his criticism of both Beijing and the World Health Organization, which he described as the “public relations agency for China.”

The UK will soon be easing back lockdown restrictions when Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduces a “road map” plan next week.

Read more: Britain could turn the tide on coronavirus within 12 weeks: PM Johnson

The country recently celebrated hitting the milestone of administering over 100,000 Covid-19 tests and Johnson has promised citizens the country is on a “downward slope” when it comes to the pandemic.

This is despite doubts cast on the method the promised number of tests was achieved, with a report by the Health Service Journal suggesting the government now counts all the tests that have been mailed out – but not necessarily completed and mailed back – in the official stats.

The country has suffered over 28,000 deaths from the virus and had over 182,000 confirmed cases

RT with additional input from GVS News Desk.