Wuhan lab staff sought hospital care before COVID-19 outbreak disclosed: WSJ By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Security personnel preserve watch exterior the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the course of the go to by the World Health Organization (WHO) crew tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), in Wuhan, Hubei province, China Fe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sought hospital care in November 2019, months before China disclosed the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing a beforehand undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.

The newspaper mentioned the report – which gives recent particulars on the variety of researchers affected, the timing of their sicknesses, and their hospital visits – could add weight to requires a broader probe of whether or not the COVID-19 virus might have escaped from the laboratory.

The report got here on the eve of a gathering of the World Health Organization’s decision-making physique, which is predicted to debate the subsequent part of an investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

A National Security Council spokeswoman had no touch upon the Journal’s report however mentioned the Biden administration continued to have “serious questions about the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its origins within the Peoples Republic of China.”

She mentioned the U.S. authorities was working with the WHO and different member states to help an expert-driven analysis of the pandemic’s origins “that is free from interference or politicization.”

“We’re not going to make pronouncements that prejudge an ongoing WHO study into the source of SARS-CoV-2, but we’ve been clear that sound and technically credible theories should be thoroughly evaluated by international experts,” she mentioned.

The Journal mentioned present and former officers acquainted with the intelligence concerning the lab researchers expressed a spread of views concerning the energy of the report’s supporting proof, with one unnamed particular person saying it wanted “further investigation and additional corroboration.”

The United States, Norway, Canada, Britain and different nations in March expressed issues concerning the WHO-led COVID-19 origins research, and known as for additional investigation and full entry to all pertinent human, animal and different knowledge concerning the early levels of the outbreak.

Washington is eager to make sure larger cooperation and transparency by China, in line with a supply acquainted with the hassle.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Sunday.

On Sunday, China’s overseas ministry famous {that a} WHO-led crew had concluded a lab leak was extraordinarily unlikely after a go to in February to the virology institute. “The U.S. continues to hype the lab leak theory,” the ministry mentioned in response to a request for remark by the Journal. “Is it actually concerned about tracing the source or trying to divert attention?”

The Trump administration had mentioned it suspected the virus could have escaped from a Chinese lab, which Beijing denies.

A State Department reality sheet launched close to the tip of the Trump administration had mentioned “the U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” It didn’t say what number of researchers.

China refused to offer uncooked knowledge on early COVID-19 circumstances to the WHO-led crew probing the origins of the pandemic, in line with one of many crew’s investigators, Reuters reported in February, probably complicating efforts to grasp how the outbreak started.

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