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Director of Wuhan lab denies coronavirus link as Trump warns China of consequences

The director of a maximum security laboratory in China’s covid-19 ground zero city of Wuhan has rejected claims that it could be the source of the outbreak calling it impossible.

Beijing has come under increasing pressure over transparency in its handling of the covid-19 pandemic, with the US probing whether the virus actually originated in a virology institute with a high-security biosafety laboratory.

Chinese scientists have said the coronavirus likely jumped from an animal to humans in a market that sold wildlife.

But the existence of the facility has fuelled conspiracy theories that the germ spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology specifically its P4 laboratory which is equipped to handle dangerous viruses.

In an interview with state media published Saturday Yuan Zhiming, director of the laboratory, said that “there’s no way this virus came from us”.

None of his staff had been infected, he told the English-language state broadcaster CGTN, adding the “whole institute is carrying out research in different areas related to the covid-19.

The institute had already dismissed the theory in February saying it had shared information about the pathogen with the World Health Organisation, in early January.

But this week the US has brought the rumours into the mainstream, with Unites State Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Unites State officials are doing a full investigation into how the virus got out into the world.

When asked if the research suggested the virus could have come from the institute, Yuan said: “I know it’s impossible.”

As people who carry out viral studies we clearly know what kind of research is going on at the institute and how the institute manages viruses and samples, he said.

He said that because the P4 laboratory is in Wuhan people can’t help but make associations. But that some media outlets are deliberately trying to mislead people.

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