The U.S. State Department has reported that it has new information indicating the pathogen behind the COVID-19 pandemic could have emerged from a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan.

Specifically, the U.S. said it had obtained new evidence that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick in the fall of 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak in the surrounding city, with symptoms it said were consistent with either COVID-19 or common seasonal illnesses.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a statement that this contradicted reports that none of the staff at the institute had contracted COVID-19 or related viruses and urged the World Health Organization team that landed Thursday in Wuhan to “press the government of China” on the “new information.”

“Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo did not suggest that the virus was intentionally engineered or released but instead escaped the lab accidentally. Meanwhile, China continues to impede the World Health Organization investigators’ efforts who are attempting to get to Wuhan to look for the source.

…[I]n a sign of Beijing’s continuing efforts to control the investigation, the team of scientists and W.H.O. employees almost immediately ran into obstacles. Two scientists were unable to enter China at the last minute and remained in Singapore because they tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, the W.H.O. said in a Twitter post. The Chinese authorities required the remaining 13 experts to undergo two weeks of quarantine in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late 2019.

…Seemingly worried about drawing renewed attention to the country’s early mistakes in handling the pandemic, Chinese officials have used a variety of tactics over the past year to hinder the W.H.O. investigation.

After resisting demands from other nations that it allow independent investigators onto its soil to study the origin of the pathogen, China finally let two W.H.O. experts visit in July to lay the groundwork. Then it promptly placed the team into quarantine for 14 days, forcing its members to do some of their detective work from a distance.

They were not permitted to visit Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.

I have long been skeptical of the flat line of cases that China has reported, with no reported surge experienced by the rest of the world. Interestingly, the Chinese government is now responding to an explosion in cases.

China is reimposing coronavirus lockdowns on 20 million residents as cases begin to rise, hitting its highest daily case count in six months on Monday.

Monday’s 85 new locally transmitted symptomatic infection cases and Tuesday’s 42 similar new cases reported by China’s National Health Commission has prompted many areas of China to reimplement lockdown protections ahead of one of China’s biggest holidays in February, the Lunar New Year.

Most of the lockdowns are occurring near the northern part of China where they are experiencing one of their coldest winters on record, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Many of the new cases are being seen around Bejing, China’s capital city, in the northern province of Hebei.

China has not “vanquished” the coronavirus. Samples of ice cream from a Chinese company recently tested positive for COVID-19.

More than half the total boxes had already been distributed for sale when the positive tests were discovered. Market regulation authorities in other provinces outside Tianjin where the ice cream was sent were notified of the issue, and customers who may have purchased the product are being told to report their health to community officials.

According to the report, 1,662 employees were tested at the company Thursday and were quarantining.

Officials believe the coronavirus was able to survive in the ice cream due to the cold temperature and was likely transferred from a person who had the disease.

While it is vital to know precisely how the coronavirus originated, I suspect that somebody will put the investigation into the pathogen’s Chinese birthplace on the back-burner for the next four years. I wouldn’t be surprised if “scientific consensus” points the finger at Italy, India, or another country.

 

 
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