Japanese government calls for further probe into Covid-19 origins

Virus outbreak in Japan
Virus outbreak in Japan (AP)
8:13am, Wed 31 Mar 2021
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The Japanese government is calling for further investigation into the origins of Covid-19, claiming that the World Health Organisation (WHO) report released this week was based on work that faced delays and lacked access to essential virus samples.

Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters: “In order to prevent future pandemics, it is indispensable to carry out prompt, independent and experts-led investigations that are free of surveillance.

“We are concerned that the latest investigation faced delays and the lack of access to virus samples.”

The World Health Organisation’s report was released on Tuesday after experts travelled to Wuhan in China – the city where illnesses from the coronavirus were first detected in late 2019.

Coronavirus graphic (PA Graphics)

China has touted its cooperation with the WHO and warned that attempts to politicise the matter would cost lives.

The US and other countries say the WHO report is lacking crucial information, access and transparency, and further study was warranted.

Mr Kato called for additional investigation and analysis and said Japan will encourage the WHO to consider additional investigation inside China.

“We will further cooperate with other countries in carrying out additional studies that are still necessary,” Mr Kato said.

The report said the virus most likely came from bats and spread to an unidentified mammal before being transmitted to people.

It called a laboratory leak an unlikely route of transmission that did not warrant further study.

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