China has refused repeated requests by the World Health Organization to take part in investigations into the origins of Covid-19. Credit: Handout.

Thanks, but no thanks. Really, we don’t need you.

That was the response as China has refused repeated requests by the World Health Organization to take part in investigations into the origins of Covid-19, the WHO representative in China has told Sky News.

“We know that some national investigation is happening but at this stage we have not been invited to join,” Dr. Gauden Galea said.

“WHO is making requests of the health commission and of the authorities,” he said. “The origins of virus are very important, the animal-human interface is extremely important and needs to be studied.

“The priority is we need to know as much as possible to prevent the reoccurrence.”

The Australian government has called for an independent public enquiry into the origins of Covid-19, a measure EU countries are reportedly considering publicly endorsing as well, the report said.

China reacted angrily, with one official issuing a thoroughly embarrassing statement, that Australia is the gum on the bottom of China’s shoe — a surprisingly amateurish remark that will surely backfire and give weight to the call for international involvement.

The Trump administration is now formulating a long-term plan to punish China on multiple fronts for the coronavirus pandemic, injecting a rancorous new element into a critical relationship already on a steep downward slide, CNN reported.

The effort matches but goes far beyond an election campaign strategy of blaming Beijing to distract from President Donald Trump’s errors in predicting and handling the crisis, which has now killed more than 60,000 Americans.

The US intelligence community is meanwhile coming under enormous pressure from the administration, with senior officials pushing to find out whether the virus escaped into the public from the two labs working with viruses in Wuhan, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan CDC, two sources familiar with the frustrations said.

Needlessly heightening suspicion, Dr. Galea told Sky News that the WHO had not been able to investigate logs from those two labs.

“From all available evidence, WHO colleagues in our three-level system are convinced that the origins are in Wuhan and that it is a naturally occurring, not a manufactured, virus,” he said.

Nevertheless, according to Dr. Galea, the laboratory logs “would need to be part of any full report, any full look at the story of the origins.”

Dr. Galea defended the much-maligned WHO’s role in the early days of the outbreak, Sky News reported.

“We only know what China is reporting to us at that period in time.”

From 3 January to 16 January, Wuhan officials reported no new coronavirus cases beyond the 41 already published.

“Is it likely that there were only 41 cases for that period of time? I would think not,” Dr. Galea told Sky News.

“Is that a matter of difficulty in finding were they getting their act together, is it a question of definition? I cannot speculate. But it would have been during that period obviously some growth would have been happening.

“It is unlikely that with an epidemic of this nature that it stays at 41 exactly.

“That is something that China will have to answer for.”

The heated rhetoric over the virus threatens to unleash a chain reaction of mistrust and tension that worsens tensions between the US and China exacerbated by Trump’s trade war, territorial flashpoints including in the South China Sea and the global US campaign against the Huawei communications giant, CNN reported.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned last week that the building heat was dangerous.”Frankly, it is each side pushing each other’s hyper nationalism buttons and we are getting nowhere,” she said.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.