The Wuhan Institute of Virology has since 2004 “isolated and obtained some coronaviruses from bats,” its director Wang Yanyi said in an interview that aired Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) and the New York Post.
“Now we have three strains of live viruses … But their highest similarity to SARS-CoV-2 only reaches 79.8 per cent,” Yanyi said, referring to the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.
“It’s an obvious difference,” she said, according to AFP.
Yanyi rubbished the conspiracy that the pandemic started in her lab — one pushed by US President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — as “pure fabrication.”
Her scientists had never “encountered, researched or kept the virus” until it received samples on December 30, when it had already unknowingly taken hold on Wuhan, the contagion’s epicentre, she said.
“In fact, like everyone else, we didn’t even know the virus existed,” she said of the new virus that as of Sunday had infected more than 5.3 million and killed more than 340,000 worldwide.
“How could it have leaked from our lab when we never had it?”
Chinese scientists have always said that the virus first emerged at a wet market selling live animals in Wuhan.
But US authorities raised suspicions over the lab at the heart of the epicentre — claims that the World Health Organisation have insisted are purely “speculative” without evidence being offered.
Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi on Sunday claimed US politicians chose to “fabricate rumours” about the origins to “stigmatise China.”
He said China would be “open” to international co-operation to identify the source of the novel coronavirus, as long as any investigation is “free of political interference.”
Sino-US ties have nosedived since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, with the administrations of US President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping repeatedly trading barbs over issues related to the pandemic, especially US accusations of cover-ups and lack of transparency.
The two top economies have also clashed over Hong Kong, human rights, trade and US support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
Speaking at an annual news conference on the sidelines of China’s parliament, Wang Yi said: “What China and the United States need to do the most is to first learn from each other and share their experience in fighting against the epidemic, and help each country fight it.”
He added China and the United States need to start co-ordinating macro policies for their respective economies as well as the world economy.
Wang said China remained prepared to work with the United States in the spirit of co-operation and mutual respect when asked if Sino-US relations would further worsen.
“China has always advocated that, as the world’s largest developing country and the largest developed country, both of us bear a major responsibility for world peace and development,” he said.
THE INDUSTRIES RECEIVING SUPPORT AFTER JOBKEEPER CUT-OFF
Arts, housing construction and tourism industries will receive federal government support beyond the September cut-off for JobKeeper in recognition of the sustained economic hit caused by the COVID-19 shut down.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged there will be additional targeted measures for industries unlikely to bounce back while bans on mass crowds and international border restrictions remain in place, including a comprehensive package for the arts due to be finalised in the coming weeks.
“There are many challenges that the economy will face beyond September, we know that, and there are particular sectors that will feel this for longer,” he said. “We will be considering that carefully.”
Mr Morrison said help would not be in the form of extending the criteria for the JobKeeper wage subsidy in light of an “administrative error”, which meant the program cost $60 billion less than estimated.
Mr Morrison said he ultimately took responsibility for the mistake, but warned the extra funds were not about to be quickly spent, likening the sudden windfall to a house build coming under budget.
“What it means is that Australians won’t have to borrow as much money,” he said.
“It’s not going to cost Australia more money, it’s going to end up costing Australians less.”
Mr Morrison said the government would not be borrowing any more than what was needed to deliver the program under its current parameters, adding he took “responsibility” for the error.
“What people were told is we’d drawn a line in the sand on the eligibility for that program … now treasury made an estimate of what that would cost, that estimate was cautious, it overstated what the demand would be,” he said.
Mr Morrison said treasury officials were ordered to pour over the JobKeeper program looking for any more mistakes after the bungle was discovered last week.
He added JobKeeper was designed to work alongside JobSeeker and other support programs, which together would support more than five million Australians.
“Sure the estimate was overstated and the process with the taxation office to keep us updated on that had a flaw in it, we acknowledge that, I acknowledge that,” Mr Morrison said.
“This is not money that is sitting in the bank somewhere, this $60 billion, this is money that would have otherwise had to be borrowed against the taxes that future generations would pay and so the result of this is that the program will cost not what it was estimated to cost and that means for the taxpayer, their debt levels will be lower, their interest bill will be lower and the government will be able to ensure it will continue to provide the many other essential services without the burden of that greater debt.”
AUSTRALIA’S PUSH FOR WHO INDEPENDENT INSPECTION POWERS
Australia will continue its push for the World Health Organisation to be granted independent inspection powers despite increasing tensions with China.
Beijing officials have openly criticised Australia for claiming victory in securing a COVID-19 inquiry at the World Health Assembly last week, arguing the motion – which was backed by China – was nothing like what the federal government had been proposing.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not backed down from pursuing options to grant the WHO weapons inspector-style powers.
“Australia has advanced, I think, a very common sense idea and it’s not directed at any one country, it would simply be the idea that in future, including here in Australia if there was ever something like this that would occur again, that we might have the ability to ensure that we were able to access information as quickly as possible,” he said.
“That is not a criticism, that’s … a very common sense and straight forward suggestion and we’ll just work with the various agencies to see if that can be achieved.”
Mr Morrison said he did not think China’s moves against Australian barley and red meat exporters were linked to Australia’s international efforts securing a COVID-19 inquiry.
“We see this from time to time, and I can understand in current circumstances why lines might be drawn by some but I would caution against that, there is a regularity to some of those things we’ll continue to manage each of those issues on their merits,” he said.
HIGH-FIVES, PARENTS CHEERING OFF THE CARDS FOR SPORTING EVENTS
Handshakes, high-fives, huddles and parents cheering from the sidelines are off the cards for the forgeable future under new government guidelines for community sport during COVID-19.
As part of federal government agency Sport Australia’s Return to Sport Toolkit, which outlines how clubs can safely operate once activity resumes, grandparents are being advised to stay away from the sidelines once sport resumes as well as expect to see physical barriers installed at canteens.
For medium to large organisations – in a bid to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 – only one parent will be allowed to attend children’s sporting events under new rules, and players will be told to shower and change at home.
Sport Australia also states players must wash their hands before, during and after training, and spitting, coughing and nose-clearing will no longer be allowed.
Scoreboards, balls and dugout benches at sporting ovals will also be wiped with disinfectant under new rules, as well as drinking taps banne, and teams discouraged from taking buses to games and travelling interstate.
Associations at every level will also be required to appoint a COVID-19 safety co-ordinator to liaise with other clubs and peak bodies, and implement and oversee guidelines.
Sport Australia acting CEO Rob Dalton said public health remained “paramount” and urged “all sporting participants not to jump the starting gun without first the consent of your relevant state and territory health authorities.”
“Australia’s sporting community is desperately keen to get back in the game and resume playing the sports they love, but we need to ensure that is done in a safe, responsible and low risk manner so that we can keep moving forward towards the full resumption of sport,” he said.
COVIDSAFE APP DOWNLOADS PASS SIX MILLION
Six million Australians have downloaded the COVIDSafe app less than a month after being launched to help health authorities across the nation trace coronavirus infections.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the app is playing a significant role in Australia’s response to the pandemic and several countries have expressed interest in learning from its positive impacts.
“Australia continues to be a world leader in testing, tracing, and containing the coronavirus and I would encourage all Australians to contribute to that effort and download the COVIDSafe app today,” Mr Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.
Only state and territory health officials have access to contact information from the app which is triggered when people come in close contact with someone who has the virus – that is 1.5 metres or less for a duration of 15 minutes or more.
MASSIVE COVID OUTBREAK IN GERMAN CHURCH
At least 107 people have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a service at a Baptist church in the western German city of Frankfurt, the regional health ministry says.
The affected worshippers were residents of Frankfurt and three districts in the surrounding central state of Hesse, said the state’s Health Minister Kai Klose.
The new numbers came a day after authorities said they had confirmed at least 40 cases related to the service.
“Most of them are not particularly sick. To our knowledge, there is only one person in a hospital,” said Rene Gottschalk, head of Frankfurt’s health department on Saturday.
Earlier, Wladimir Pritzkau, deputy head of the Baptist congregation, indicated that six people were being treated in hospital.
In response to the outbreak, authorities called off a Muslim service scheduled for Sunday in Hanau’s Herbert Droese Stadium, saying allowing the event to go ahead would be irresponsible in light of events in Frankfurt.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 178,281, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases indicated on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 31 to 8247.
- Chinese government rejects WHO plan for second phase of Covid-19 origins study
- China rebuffs WHO's terms for further COVID-19 origins study
- Writer: Fauci, Paul clash shouldn't distract from probe into COVID-19 origins
- WHO urges collaboration on COVID-19 origin after China rejects inquiry plan
- COVID-19 origin probe must be in right direction
- China 'shocked' by WHO plan for COVID-19 origins study
- China rejects WHO plan for COVID-19 origin study, says it 'defies science'
- US urges WHO to carry out 2nd phase of COVID-19 origin study in China
- GOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory
- China rejects WHO plan for Covid-19 origin study, says it 'defies science'
- China 'shocked' at WHO plan to study COVID-19 origin, rejects proposal
- China rejects WHO plan for study of COVID-19 origin
- Biden orders deep investigation into COVID-19 origins
- GLOBALink | Politicization of COVID-19 origin tracing undermines global efforts to defeat virus: Pakistani expert
- Calls for China to release medical records of nine people who may be the key to Covid-19 origins
- China rejects WHO's plan for further study of Covid-19 origins
- So-called report by U.S. congressmen on COVID-19 origins not credible: FM spokesperson
- Xinhua Headlines: What's behind Washington's political manipulation of COVID-19 origin-tracing?
- WHO must 'pry open closed doors' in China to find COVID-19 origins, Washington Post board says
- Philippine columnist urges stopping politicization of COVID-19 origin tracing
Wuhan Institute of Virology’s director denies COVID-19 originated in lab but live bat viruses were kept there have 2215 words, post on www.news.com.au at May 25, 2020. This is cached page on Business News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.