President Donald Trump said his administration was seeking to ascertain where the deadly disease had originated from and raised its sanctions against China over the coronavirus pandemic. State Secretary Mike Pompeo has also called on Beijing to “come clean” of what it knows.
On Wednesday, Trump was questioned at a White House news conference about stories of the virus escaping from a laboratory in Wuhan, where the coronavirus first appeared.
“We’re really looking at this horrible thing that we’re doing, he said.
When asked if in his conversations with President Xi Jinping he discussed this subject, Trump said: “I don’t want to speak about what I told him about the laboratory, I just don’t want to speak because it’s not necessary at the moment.”
At least 136,000 people worldwide have now died of the disease with nearly 31,000 in the United States alone. More than two million people were infected by the infection and at least half a million recovered.
Trump’s top diplomat, Pompeo, meanwhile, after Trump’s news conference, told Fox News Channel, “We believe this virus originated in Wuhan, China,” and noted that the Virology Institute was just a couple of miles from the city, where people first came down with the disease. “To open up the Chinese government we really need,” Pompeo said, trying to explain “exactly how this virus spreads.”
“We need to clear the left of this virus from the Chinese Government,” he said. The state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology has rejected claims that the virus might have been artificially synthesized at one of its laboratories or escaped as far back as February from its facility.
The foreign ministry of China reported on Thursday that the World Health Organization said there was no coronavirus evidence in a laboratory. A spokesman for the ministry Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing that WHO officials “have said many times that there is no proof that the latest coronavirus was developed in a laboratory.”