A federal senator has accused China of deliberately frustrating an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
A World Health Organisation-led team which spent almost a month in Wuhan has been unable to find exactly how the virus was transmitted to humans.
Outspoken Nationals senator Matt Canavan said the answer would probably never be known and accused China of secrecy over the outbreak and its origins.
“Through this whole process China has acted like it had something to hide and it has frustrated the inquiry, dragged it out,” he told Nine on Wednesday.
“It's not really any surprise that a year on, or over a year, that it's become too hard to find the origin. We needed this inquiry to start pretty much straight away if it was any hope of finding conclusions –and it hasn't.
“The World Health Organisation hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory over this period as well,” he added.
“We’ll probably never find out where this thing came from.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was among the first to call for an inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, angering China and straining relations between the two countries.
Matt Canavan’s criticisms of China – which initially blocked entry of the WHO investigators last week – comes in the same week a Wuhan coronavirus whistleblower was remembered on the anniversary of his death.
Li Wenliang died from Covid-19 on February 7 last year while treating patients in Wuhan. He had tried to raise the alarm about the new virus but was told by police to “stop making false comments” and was investigated by the government for “spreading rumours”.
WHO team rules out lab leak
While investigators did not uncover many answers, the WHO team dismissed suggestions the pandemic was sparked by a lab leak in Wuhan.
It determined the virus was most likely to have been transmitted through an animal, but exactly which animal remains unclear. Scientists found no clear link to bats, pangolins or any other wild animals.
The delegation also found the virus may have been spread through frozen food, and could have been active in other regions or countries before the first cases emerged in Wuhan.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the WHO team's findings were pretty straightforward.
Mr Hunt said it was overwhelmingly likely the virus came from the animal kingdom and originated where the first human cases were found.
“It's not surprising that there are no surprises,” he told Seven.
Appearing later on the ABC, Mr Hunt became combative when asked about why he attached a Liberal Party logo to a taxpayer-funded vaccine announcement. The partisan logo was attached to an Australian government announcement about securing an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
When asked who paid for the vaccines, the minister launched into a personal attack on the television anchor Michael Rowland, claiming he was left-wing.
Meanwhile, the government insists Australia's vaccine timeline is still on track as other countries ramp up their inoculation programs.
Several vaccines have gained regulatory approval overseas, but the Morrison government has adopted a more cautious approach, waiting for full regulatory approval before commencing the national rollout, scheduled to start by the end of the month.
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