Australia urges to investigate origins of coronavirus, France says

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for support for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in telephone calls with US President Donald Trump and German and French leaders, Canberra said Wednesday .

FILE PHOTO: Police officers patrol near the Sydney Opera House following stricter social distancing and self-isolation rules to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia , April 6, 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott / photo file

But French President Emmanuel Macron told him that the urgency was to overcome the pandemic before finding out who was at fault, said a French official.

Australia’s pressure for an independent review of the origins and spread of the pandemic, including the response from the World Health Organization (WHO), has drawn strong criticism from China, which has accused lawmakers Australians to take instructions from the United States.

The new coronavirus, which is said to have emerged in a market in Wuhan, central China, was first reported by China to WHO on December 31.

WHO informed member states of the outbreak on January 5 and publicly warned a week later that there was “limited” human-to-human transmission. WHO officials arrived in Wuhan on January 20 after the virus spread to three other countries. He then declared a global emergency on January 30.

The virus has since infected some 2.3 million people worldwide and killed nearly 160,000, according to Reuters calculations.

Morrison said on Twitter on Wednesday that he had “a very constructive discussion” with Trump on the two countries’ responses to COVID-19 and the need to turn the economies on.

“We have also talked about WHO and working together to improve the transparency and effectiveness of international responses to pandemics,” he tweeted.

The White House fiercely criticized China and the WHO, and withdrew US funding from the United Nations agency.

Morrison also spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron over the phone about the role of WHO, his office said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly stated that the United Nations agency will assess its management of the pandemic once it is over and draw the appropriate lessons, as it does after all emergencies.

“WHO wants this more than any organization because we want to learn from our mistakes, from our strengths and move on. But for now, the focus should be on fighting the virus, “said Tedros during a briefing earlier this month.

Macron said Morrison was not the time for an investigation.

“He says that it is appropriate that there were some problems at the start, but that the urgency is for cohesion, that it is not time to talk about it, while reaffirming the need for transparency for all actors, not just for the WHO, ”an Elysée official told Reuters on Wednesday.

In Berlin, the government confirmed that Merkel spoke to Morrison on Tuesday. His spokesman said on Friday, “The coronavirus first appeared in China. China has suffered greatly from the virus and has done much to control the spread. “

Australia is examining whether the WHO should be empowered, like international weapons inspectors, to enter a country to investigate an outbreak without having to wait for its consent, a government source told Reuters.

High-level Australian lawmakers have also questioned Beijing’s transparency on the pandemic.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said in a statement on Tuesday that Australian lawmakers were acting as Trump’s spokesperson and that “some Australian politicians are eager to hear what these Americans have said and simply follow them by organizing attacks policies against China ”.

Australia registered just over 6,600 cases of the virus nationwide, with four new cases on Wednesday. Infection rates fell from 25% in mid-March to less than 1% per day.

Lawmakers plan to lighten some sidewalks, with the iconic Bondi Beach in Australia set to partially reopen next week.

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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