The World Health Organisation is ramping up pressure in its search for the origins of the coronavirus.
In a letter to member countries, WHO listed its research priorities and announced a new permanent working group to look for the origin of new pathogens.
WHO chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, stressed in Geneva on Friday that alongside examining wildlife and animal markets in China’s Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in 2019, laboratories must also be inspected there.
China delayed WHO research team’s first trip for months.
Though WHO wants to continue the investigations, Beijing is making no moves to allow work to continue in China.
The issue is sensitive and the United States has accused China of preventing a transparent analysis, while Beijing suspects the U.S. wants to blame China for the spread of the virus.
The Chinese authorities are spreading far-fetched theories that the virus could also have entered China via frozen goods from abroad.
The WHO team reported at the end of March it was “likely to very likely” that the virus had jumped from an animal to a human via an intermediate host.
It said it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus accidentally escaped from a lab.
But the U.S. seems to be sticking to the lab-leak theory.
“It is considered possible at least in parts of U.S. intelligence apparatus,’’ U.S. President Joe Biden said at the end of May.
He ordered further investigation, and U.S. intelligence is due to give a report at the end of August.