Looking into reports that coronavirus ‘escaped’ from Wuhan lab

Washington: The US is looking into reports that the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 150,000 people globally, “escaped” from a Wuhan lab in China, President Donald Trump has said.

“We’re looking at it, a lot of people are looking at it. It seems to make sense,” Trump told reporters at a White House news conference on Friday when asked if there was an investigation into whether the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.

“They talk about a certain kind of bat, but that bat wasn’t in that area if you can believe this,” he claimed. “That bat wasn’t sold at that wet zone…. That bat is 40 miles away.”

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Earlier in the day, Fox News reported that the United States was conducting a full-scale investigation into whether the deadly virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan.

In an exclusive report, it said intelligence operatives were reportedly gathering information about the laboratory and the initial outbreak of the pathogen.

Intelligence analysts are piecing together a timeline of what the government knew and “creating an accurate picture of what happened”, the channel quoted sources as saying.

“A lot of strange things are happening, but there is a lot of investigation going on and we are going to find out,” Trump said. “All I can say is wherever it came from, came from China in whatever form, 184 countries now are suffering because of it.”

Trump added that the US would end its grant to a level-IV lab in Wuhan.

“(The) Obama administration gave them a grant of USD 3.7 million,” the president said. “We will end that grant very quickly.”

A group of more than half-a-dozen lawmakers sent a letter to House and Senate leadership, requesting them to ensure that no future coronavirus relief funds be appropriated to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Meanwhile, lawmaker James Smith accused China of indulging in covering up the issue of coronavirus.

“The communist Chinese government’s cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak allowed this virus to spread unchecked, threatening the health and stability of the free world. They must be held accountable,” Smith said.

“When people in Wuhan began to fall ill with a mysterious SARS-like illness, instead of working to contain the virus, the Chinese Communist Party ruthlessly worked to contain the spread of information. This secrecy endangered millions of lives, the Congressman said.

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