China has rejected the next stage of a World Health Organization (WHO) plan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The WHO wants to audit laboratories in the area where the virus was first identified.
But Zeng Yixin, deputy health minister, says this showed “disrespect for common sense and arrogance toward science”.
WHO experts says it was very unlikely the virus escaped from a Chinese lab, but the theory has endured.
Investigators were able to visit Wuhan – the city where the virus was first detected in December 2019 – in January 2021.
But earlier this month, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus outlined the terms of the inquiry’s next phase. This included looking at certain science research institutions.
He has now called on China to be more co-operative about the early stages of the outbreak.