INTERNATIONAL

China offers glimpse into lab rumoured to have leaked virus

Image correction:A file photo of a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China's Hubei province.AP

Image correction:A file photo of a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China's Hubei province.AP  

Chinese state media has offered a rare glimpse of the lab at the heart of coronavirus conspiracy theories, as it seeks to push back against claims the facility was the source of the global pandemic.

President Donald Trump and other U.S. figures have repeatedly suggested the virus could have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, or even been deliberately produced there.

No closer access

Footage broadcast by state-run CCTV is believed to be the first from within the institute’s P4 lab — for highly-dangerous Class 4 pathogens — since its inauguration in 2017.

However, it offered no new information on the lab’s workings.

It included only a few brief shots of actual laboratory areas, taken through thick glass windows. The report said safety protocols prevented closer access.

The piece focussed instead on rebutting leak suspicions.

“There have been no accidents of pathogen leaks or human infections” from the lab, said Yuan Zhiming, director of the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory.

“Because of the fear and feeling of helplessness and also the lack of information, many people would naturally link an area’s outbreak to its nearest lab. As they learn more about the situation and the lab, rumours will gradually dissipate.”

The United States and Australia had called for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic.

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