CHINA has blamed Spain for coronavirus suggesting Covid-19 originated in Europe and not Wuhan.
Senior government health adviser Wang Guangfa referenced research in Barcelona which detected Covid-19 in a wastewater sample from March 2019 to suggest any investigation into its origins should look at Spain.
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It comes ahead of a World Health Organisation "scoping mission" to China next week which aims to establish a platform to trace the emergence of the killer virus which has now claimed more than 500,000 deaths globally.
Independent experts have slammed the research as flawed and contradictory to strong evidence suggesting the virus started in China in late 2019.
Director of the UCL Genetics Institute in London Professor Francois Balloux said: “The most plausible explanation is sample mix-up/contamination."
But officials from the communist regime, which has repeatedly tried to deflect blame, insisted any investigation into how and where the pandemic started should not be confined to the one country.
Chief epidemiologist for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention told state-tun Global Times: “Identifying the source of the coronavirus must be based on negotiations and involve multiple countries.
"It does not matter which country the scientific identification work starts with, as long as it involves all related countries and is fairly conducted."
Director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO said: "Knowing the source of the virus is very, very important. We can fight the virus better when we know everything about the virus, including how it started.”
The WHO team will see an animal health expert and an epidemiologist travel to China to “set up an international mission” to explore Covid-19's origins.
EcoHealth Alliance president Dr Peter Daszak told The Telegraph: “Doing the science of this is hard, it's expensive, it takes a long time. But it's worth doing because then you can actually make intelligent decisions that will save lives in the future... and prevent another pandemic.”
He added that tracing the virus will be difficult because China is increasingly hostile and resistant to global criticism.
The search for how the pandemic started has centred around Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which had links to many of the first reported cases.
But Dr Daszak suspected the virus, which most likely originated in bats, was spreading for some time before reaching Wuhan through an extensive wildlife trade that connects rural areas with bat caves to large cities.
China has been widely criticised for its handling of coronavirus and the superpower has made repeated attempts since the outbreak to distance itself from blame.
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Last month an independent journalist was arrested for exposing a Wuhan 'cover-up' after posting videos of a crematorium burning bodies 24/7.
In May it shamelessly accused the world of "shirking responsibility".
And a leaked EU report in April revealed the communist regime was pumping out 'fake news' to deflect blame.