Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Sunday called for an independent international inquiry into the origins of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The minister told ABC that transparency is essential to move forward, especially on the part of China.

 

Asked what she wanted to know from China, Payne said there was a need for an independent investigation into the origins of the new coronavirus, the authorities’ response to it and the openness with which China shared the information.

The minister said that China’s co-operation with the World Health Organization (WHO) should also be investigated.

Payne added that the United States had similar concerns.

US President Donald Trump announced the suspension of US funding to the World Health Organization this month because the UN agency said he had concealed the seriousness of the new coronavirus outbreak in China before it spread around the world and had not responded effectively enough to the crisis.

Payne said Australia’s relations with China will change as a result of the pandemic.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt supported the idea of an independent inquiry and said Australia had succeeded in curbing the spread of the virus, in part because it had not followed WHO advice but had made its own decisions.

In Australia, infection with the new coronavirus has been confirmed in around 6,600 people, 70 of whom have died from the disease caused by the virus, COVID-19.

 

Hunt said the WHO had done a good job in fighting measles, polio, malaria, and other diseases, but had not helped the world with the new coronavirus.

 

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