No evidence coronavirus originated from China, says ambassador Lin
Johannesburg - Chinese ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian on Friday pushed back against suggestions that his country should carry sole responsibility for COVID-19, saying while the globally-spreading disease was first reported in its Wuhan city, there was no evidence it had originated there.
Lin spoke to journalists a day after South Africa's health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal had become South Africa's first confirmed case of COVID-19 after travelling to Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the disease outside China.
The Chinese ambassador said scientists from developed countries around the world were still battling to determine the source of the virus.
"So far, studies by scientists from countries like the United States, (those in) Europe and Japan … say that the source of the novel coronavirus is still unclear, uncertain," Lin told a news conference in South Africa's capital Pretoria.
"(But) we have noticed that some people with a hidden agenda accuse China of being the origin of the novel coronavirus, or they smear China by saying the coronavirus (was) made in China."
As countries around the world try to contain the spread of the virus, fake claims have floated around social media and some mainstream media about its origins, with many pointing a finger at China.
On Friday, Lin said no country could distance itself from the scourge.
"No country can fight the epidemic alone. What we need to do is share the responsibility," he said.
"This is a global battle between man and nature."
A situational update from the World Health Organisation on Thursday said there were now 95 333 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 80 565 of them in China. Some 14 768 cases have been confirmed in 85 other countries. The death toll stands at 3 015 in China and 267 elsewhere.
Lin said plans by the South African government to repatriate its citizens from Wuhan were understandable, but insisted China was making every effort to keep the disease from spreading.
"Now is not the time for international travel," he cautioned.
African News Agency (ANA)