BEIJING, April 16. /TASS/. Claims that the novel coronavirus was artificially created in a lab are baseless, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Thursday, commenting on the reports of the US TV channel Fox News claiming that an employee of the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab was the first to have contracted the virus.
"As for the source and the origin of the virus, this issue should be researched by scientists and medics. I would like to remind you that there is no proof that the novel coronavirus was created in a lab," he noted.
"Many respected medical researchers across the world consider the version claiming that the virus originated from a lab scientifically baseless. The pandemic is a common enemy of mankind. We can only overcome it with concentrated efforts of the entire global community," the diplomat said.
On Wednesday, Fox News informed, citing "multiple sources" familiar with the matter, that an employee of the lab might have contracted the virus from a bat, later transmitting the virus to Wuhan residents. The channel claims that the virus was not created as a bioweapon, but "as part of China's effort to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States."
In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 2,000,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 134,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 516,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.