KARACHI: China has dismissed as ‘sensational hearsay’ suggestion by certain Western individuals and media outlets that novel coronavirus may have originated from China’s biological warfare program and it is a ‘bio-weapon’ leaked from a lab.
“Chinese people are fighting an all-out war against COVID-19 not just for its own sake, but also for global public health security. At this particular time, it is either with malicious intentions or absurd ignorance that certain individuals and media outlets are spreading such sensational hearsay,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said during the weekly briefing on Friday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also said repeatedly there is no evidence that COVID-19 was engineered in a laboratory or created by the manufacture of biological weapons.
More than 2,200 people have died in the outbreak originated from China last month.
The WHO has warned nations could face a serious problem if they fail to “hit hard now” against the virus, which has infected more than 75,000 in China and over 1,100 abroad.
Chinese authorities have placed tens of millions of people under quarantine in hard-hit central Hubei province and restricted movements in other cities far from the epicentre.
Many nations have banned travellers from China and airlines have suspended flights to and from the country.
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“Besides the war on virus, we’re also battling conspiracy theories. Many of the world’s leading medical experts also believe that such allegations as ‘laboratory leakage’ or ‘biological weapons development’ have no scientific basis whatsoever,” Shuang asserted.
On February 18, the Lancet, a well-reputed international medical journal, published a joint statement signed by 27 of the world’s leading scientists in the field of public health in support of the Chinese research, health and medical professionals fighting the outbreak, strongly condemning the conspiracy theories circulating online.
According to the joint statement, scientists from multiple countries analysed genomes of the causative agent, and they overwhelmingly concluded that the coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have other emerging pathogens.
“Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice that jeopardise global collaboration in the fight against this virus. These scientists also call for respect for the professional advice of the WHO.
“I want to emphasise that what we need in the face of an epidemic is science, rationality and cooperation. We must seek the triumph of science over ignorance, dispel rumours with truth, and replace prejudice with cooperation. We hope the international community, while fighting COVID-19 together, will continue to combat conspiracy theories and other ‘political viruses’.”