The Federal Government says it is “no surprise” the World Health Organisation has not been able to identify the origin of COVID-19, following its release of findings from a month-long investigation overnight.
But Health Minister Greg Hunt said he was “pleased” the theory about the virus being created in a lab had been “ruled out”.
He said the WHO’s report into COVID-19’s origin was about “global learning on multiple fronts”.
“It’s just about continuous learning and continuously understanding how the largest virus, the biggest pandemic since the Spanish flu, is being transmitted and how we best response to it as a country,” he said on ABC.
However, Nationals Senator Matt Canavan hit out against China “dragging out” the whole process.
“China’s acted like it had something to hide and it has frustrated the inquiry, dragged it out,” he said on Today.
“It’s not really any surprise that, a year on, or over a year, it’s become too hard to find the origin. We needed this inquiry to start pretty much straight-away if there was any hope of finding conclusions and it hasn’t.”
The WHO inquiry found the virus “most likely” jumped to humans in Wuhan, China, through an animal or through frozen wildlife products.
“It could’ve been introduced by a person who was infected and then spread to other people in the market — could be a trader or visitor — but it also could be the introduction of a product,” said Embarek, referring to the Huanan wet market in Wuhan, which many of the first Covid patients were linked to,” WHO official Peter Ben Embarek said.
“Among the more interesting products were frozen wildlife animals, some of these species are known to be susceptible to these kinds of viruses.”
There was also no evidence of significant outbreaks in the country before December 2019.
The panel is comprised of 17 Chinese and 17 international experts and is searching for exactly how the virus exploded in Wuhan before developing into a global pandemic.
About 107 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded since the outbreak began, along with a tragic 2.33 million deaths.
Chinese officials have claimed for months it is likely the virus was brought into the country, pointing the finger at the United States for exporting it as an attack against Beijing.
“It might be US Army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” stated a tweet last year from Lijian Zhao – the same Chinese official responsible for sharing the provocative doctored image of an Australian soldier cutting the throat of an Afghani child.
Australia’s call for an inquiry into the origins of the virus before any other country angered China, which has cited the move numerous times as a reason for the tense relationship.