The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Beijing is investigating the origins of the novel coronavirus that first appeared in Wuhan, but the agency has so far been prevented from participating in the probe.

It has now said that it wants an invitation to take part in China’s investigation into the outbreak of Covid-19. Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the WHO, said the organization “would be keen to work” at the “invitation of the Chinese government” into the “animal origins” of the novel coronavirus.

His comments come less than 24 hours after the WHO’s representative in China, Dr Gauden Galea, revealed he was aware that “some national investigation was happening,” but had yet to be asked to participate by Beijing. The Maltese public health physician added that, from his point of view, there was no good reason for the WHO to be excluded from the Chinese investigation.

Dr Galea further revealed that the “origins of virus are very important” and need to be studied to “prevent a reoccurrence.” The WHO has so far not been allowed to study documents from two viral labs in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the virus. However, they have stressed that they have no doubt that the novel coronavirus occurred naturally.

Beijing would not immediately respond to signals from the UN’s health body regarding an internal Chinese probe. The Chinese government defended the WHO when the US targeted the organization with defunding over an alleged failure to warn the world about the danger posed by the coronavirus.

Covid-19 was first identified in the city of Wuhan last December, before spreading around the world. The WHO declared it a pandemic on March 11.

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