China has rejected terms proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to further investigate the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on China to be more co-operative about the early stages of the outbreak, including with audits of laboratories.
Zeng Yixin, deputy health minister, said it showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance towards science”.
He said the plan was politicised and that China could not accept it.
The WHO was only able to send a team of experts to Wuhan – the city where the virus was first detected in December 2019 – in January this year.
Their investigators concluded that it was highly unlikely that coronavirus escaped from a laboratory, but the theory has persisted.
Earlier this month, Dr Tedros outlined the terms of a proposed second phase of the WHO investigation, including audits of science research institutions in the area where the virus was first identified.
He urged Beijing to “be transparent, to be open and co-operate” with investigators and provide raw patient data that had not been shared during the first probe.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Zeng said he was extremely surprised by the WHO proposal because it focused on alleged violations of China’s laboratory protocols.