China has said it is reviewing plans to further investigate the origin of the coronavirus after the head of the World Health Organization called on Beijing to cooperate in the next phase of the investigation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular briefing on Friday that Beijing was considering a proposal by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebrees. Zhao reaffirmed China’s position that any decision to continue the investigation “should be made by all members in consultation.”

“The Chinese side noted a draft plan prepared by Tedros and the secretariat, and the Chinese side is considering it, “Zhao said when asked about Tedros’ comments. ÔÇťOrigin tracking is a scientific business. All parties must respect the opinion of scholars and refrain from politicizing traceability. “
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The WHO chief’s remarks were the latest in a series of international efforts to make Beijing more open about the first known coronavirus outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Tedros said that at the end of 2019, scientists still lacked enough raw data on infections and possible cases of the disease.

“We ask China to be transparent, open and cooperative,” Tedros said, adding that WHO would discuss the second phase of the search for origin with member states.

Separately on Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated his call for a transparent investigation into the origins of the pandemic, saying “the world deserves answers”. Morrison reiterated the call of the Group of Seven for a “timely, transparent, expert and scientifically sound” study of the origins of the virus, which would include updated investigations in China.

China has accused the United States and its allies of conducting such investigations as part of a campaign to blame them for a pandemic that has killed more than four million people worldwide. In particular, Beijing rejects further investigations into whether the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a high-security facility near the first known outbreaks of coronavirus research.

Earlier this year, a mission involving scientists from China and co-organized with the WHO found that the virus probably spread from bats to humans through another animal. Although the mission considered the laboratory incident the least plausible hypothesis, Tedros called for further investigations.

“We owe it to the millions of people who have suffered and died,” Tedros said on Thursday. “I hope there will be better cooperation “.

On Friday, Zhao defended China’s cooperation with inquiries made to date. The WHO mission has gained access to relevant data and numerous facilities, including the Wuhan Laboratory, he said.

“China has shown a group of experts the initial data that should be of interest,” Zhao said. “And experts have repeatedly made it clear that they have received a great deal of data and information, and are fully aware that some information relating to personal confidentiality cannot be copied or deleted.”

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