20:50 GMT13 April 2021
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - China will continue to cooperate with the World Health Organization (WHO) on conducting research to trace the origin of the coronavirus, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday.

    "We are ready to collaborate with the WHO to assist the work on tracing the origin [of the coronavirus]," Li said at a press conference following the session of the 13th National People's Congress.

    The official added that China supported WHO experts in conducting research to find the origin of the disease, including in China, based on the principles of openness and transparency.

    The premier also noted that the top priority now was not only to establish the virus origin but also to solve problems in the field of COVID-19 prevention and control, as it was still spreading across the world.

    "The COVID-19 epidemic is a common enemy of humankind, and we hope that all sides will join efforts because no country can fight with such a common enemy on its own. We also strongly believe that humankind can eventually defeat the disease," Li added.   

    In mid-February, a WHO team concluded a month-long research trip to Wuhan, the world's first COVID-19 hotspot. The mission has probed several sites in the Chinese city under suspicion of being the original source of COVID-19, including a wet market and the BSL-4 high-security lab in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The experts came to a conclusion that the leak of the virus from the lab was unlikely, while the wet market's role was not yet clarified.

    Following the probe, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed concerns about whether China duly communicated raw data on the coronavirus to the WHO amid media reports that the organization's investigators were denied access to personalized data on more than a hundred early cases of COVID-19. Sullivan also noted the importance of expert findings to be free from intervention or alternation by the Chinese government. Beijing rejected Washington's claims.

    COVID-19, World Health Organization (WHO), China
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