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Report: UK government believes it's possible that COVID-19 came from Chinese lab

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Photo by Jane Barlow — WPA Pool/Getty Images

The United Kingdom government reportedly believes that the COVID-19 outbreak could have stemmed from an accidental leak at a Chinese laboratory.

At the time of this writing, most experts believe that the outbreak occurred after an animal infected a human at an outdoor animal market in Wuhan, China.

What are the details?

A Sunday report in the Daily Mail revealed that U.K. officials are not ruling out the possibility that the novel coronavirus outbreak could have emerged from a Chinese laboratory.

One government official told the outlet, "There is a credible alternative [to the zoonotic theory] based on the virus. Perhaps it is no coincidence that there is that laboratory in Wuhan. It is not discounted."

According to the outlet, there are at least two research laboratories in close physical proximity to the Wuhan animal market in question. Those laboratories are the Institute of Virology, and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control. The Institute of Virology, according to the outlet, is the "most advanced laboratory of its type on the Chinese mainland."

Previously, the U.K. Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee accused the Chinese government of spreading disinformation surrounding the virus.

"Disinformation about COVID-19 has already cost lives," the committee said last week. "It is essential that the Government issues clear and transparent messages at home to confront and rebut disinformation spread by foreign powers."

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy said that "there has been no scientific or medical conclusion yet on the origin of COVID-19, as relevant tracing work is still underway. The WHO has made repeated statements that what the world is experiencing now is a global phenomenon, the source is undetermined, the focus should be on containment, and any stigmatizing language referring to certain places must be avoided."

What else?

Just last week, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius floated a similar theory in that an accidental leak took place in the area.

Rutgers University Professor Richard Ebright, who works at the school's microbiology institute, said that Wuhan scientists at such facilities were only using "minimal protections" while working with dangerous infections.

"Virus collection, culture, isolation, or animal infection at BSL-2 with a virus having the transmission characteristics of the outbreak virus would pose substantial risk of infection of a lab worker, and from the lab worker, the public," he said. He also insisted that there is no way to rule out a lab accident.

At the time of this writing, at least 1,292,564 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed around the world. At least 70,798 people have died because of the deadly virus.

(H/T: Business Insider)

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