China has lashed out at claims Australia’s push for an international probe into the coronavirus has been vindicated, labelling it a “joke”.
China agreed to support an investigation after more than 110 countries co-sponsored a motion at the World Health Assembly on Monday night.
The WHA resolution calls for an impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic.
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Australia’s push for the inquiry into the origin of the virus sparked fury from Beijing with diplomatic ties between the two nations under intense pressure.
Senior government figures claim the inquiry vindicates the government’s stance, prompting a scathing response from China’s embassy in Australia.
“The draft resolution on COVID-19 to be adopted by the World Health Assembly is totally different from Australia’s proposal of an independent international review,” a spokesman told AAP on Tuesday.
“To claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke.”
Senior cabinet minister David Littleproud denied the investigation was about confronting China.
“This wasn’t about persecution, this was about understanding a pandemic that 300,000 souls lost their lives to,” he told reporters in Toowoomba on Tuesday.
“We should be damn proud Australia is now leading the world.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt argued Australia’s case for the inquiry at the assembly.
He said the probe should look at health risks from wildlife wet markets, where the virus is likely to have originated in China.
“We need to learn the lessons from this pandemic and ensure we have the strongest possible global health architecture, with an enhanced ability to prevent and respond to future outbreaks,” he said.
The World Health Organisation promised the review would happen at the earliest appropriate time.
US President Donald Trump supported the probe by tweeting an AAP Newswire/SBS story on the motion.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also backed a WHO-led review, saying his country acted with openness, transparency and responsibility all along.
“This work needs a scientific and professional attitude and needs to be led by the WHO. And the principles of objectivity and fairness need to be upheld,” Xi told the meeting.
Xi also said China would stump up $3.1 billion over the next two years to help deal with the disease.
Australia’s relations with China have come under further strain after Beijing slapped an 80 per cent tariff on barley imports.
COVID-19 has killed 99 people across Australia, with 6389 recovered from more than 7000 cases.
Two nursing homes in Melbourne are in lockdown after residents initially tested positive before returning negative results.
A Queensland nursing home appears to have dodged a bullet after a nurse with coronavirus continued to show up for work while infected.
No residents or staff at the Rockhampton aged care facility have tested positive despite authorities bracing for thousands of infections.
© AAP 2020