BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel Monday (April 20) urged the Chinese regime to be as transparent as possible about the coronavirus pandemic, as Beijing faces mounting pressure over its management of the crisis.
Critics have accused it of downplaying the scale and scope of the outbreak when it first emerged late last year, while theories speculate that the virus could have been leaked from a lab.
Merkel called for more information about the early days of the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China.
"I believe the more transparent China is about the origin story of the virus, the better it is for everyone in the world in order to learn from it," Merkel told reporters in Berlin Monday.
The virus was likely first transmitted to humans at a wet market where vendors sold wild animals, say Chinese scientists.
Theories that the virus came from a maximum-security virology lab in Wuhan have been raised by US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has said an investigation was under way into how the virus "got out into the world".
French President Emmanuel Macron last week told the Financial Times it would be "naive" to think China had handled the pandemic well, adding: "There are clearly things that have happened that we don't know about."
In Britain, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said China will face "hard questions" about the coronavirus outbreak, namely "how it came about and how it couldn't have been stopped earlier".
Australia, meanwhile, has called for an independent investigation into the global response to the pandemic.
Its foreign minister has said the country would "insist" on a review that would probe, in part, the Chinese response to the pandemic.
Chinese authorities have been accused of initially downplaying the outbreak, and last week authorities in Wuhan admitted mistakes in counting their death toll and revised the figure up by 50%.
An almost week-long public silence by Chinese authorities on the COVID-19 coronavirus cost the world a chance to nip the pandemic in the bud, the Associated Press (AP) reported April 15.
Chinese officials in secret realised a deadly outbreak had occurred; however, they allowed Wuhan to host a mass banquet attended by tens of thousands, spreading the virus in all directions.
The delay lasted six days -- January 14 through 19. Finally President Xi Jinping warned the public on January 20, but by then at least 3,000 people had been infected during that period of silence, according to internal documents obtained by the AP and expert estimates.
From China, the virus spread across the entire planet, upending life and inflicting untold humanitarian and economic costs.
As of Tuesday (April 21), more than 2.4 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, with more than 170,000 deaths.