Chinese experts are calling for information on the closure of a US disease research lab – which some conspiracy theorists have linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Fort Detrick laboratory, which operated in Fredrick, Maryland in the US, was temporarily shut down in July 2019 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is a biodefence centre that studies germs, toxins, and disease outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it did not have “sufficient systems in place to decontaminate wastewater” from its high-security labs.
China’s state-run Global Times has referenced a petition on the White House website, urging the US government to release more information on the suspension of the lab.
Chinese internet users are reportedly concerned that it may have been linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
One posted on the petition: “It's not a small issue, the truth should be published.”
Another said: “The world deserves to know the truth.”
Ni Feng, a deputy director of the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, called on the US government “to increase transparency” amid the outbreak, the propaganda outlet reports.
However, there is no evidence that any pathogens ever left the lab.
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Last week, China’s Xinhua news agency said that even though the epidemic was first reported in China, it “does not mean it necessarily originated in China”.
This weekend, another Chinese official promoted a conspiracy theory that the US could have brought the virus to China.
He posted to his 300,000 Twitter followers: “It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.
“Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!”
Last week, Beijing reported an increase in coronavirus cases owing to tourists from Italy.
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Diagnoses jumped on Tuesday to 24 from 19 the day before, caused by people who arrived from Italy.
They were put into a 14-day quarantine joining others from Iran, South Korea and Japan.
Measures at Beijing’s airport are set to be stepped up in the coming days over fears infections from abroad could undo its attempts to slow the epidemic at home.
But new infections in central Hubei province declined for the sixth day running, prompting a visit from President Xi Jinping on his first visit to Wuhan since the coronavirus outbreak forced a lockdown of the city of 11 million people.
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