China should face a “reckoning” over the coronavirus crisis, senior government figures have said.
Allies of Prime Minister Boris Johnson are calling for an urgent rethink in the UK’s relationship with the Communist state as anger mounts over misinformation around the pandemic, the Mail on Sunday reports.
There is also said to be fury at the top of government over problems sourcing personal protective equipment for medics and animal rights abuses, which have been blamed for causing the outbreak.
The Prime Minister has been warned by scientists that official statistics from China – where Covid-19 first emerged in the city of Wuhan – may have been downplayed “by a factor of 15 to 40 times”.
The flu-like virus has now killed 30,879 people, including more than 1,000 in the UK, and is causing a global health emergency.
Coronavirus is thought to have jumped from animals to humans at a “wet” or live animal market in Wuhan, a major transport hub in Hubei province.
This has led to calls for the country to improve its record on animal rights, amid warnings from experts that the filthy conditions in Asia’s wildlife markets are a “ticking time bomb” for new deadly pandemics.
A senior minister went as far as to say that if China does not clamp down on these markets, it risks becoming a pariah state.
“We have always known their wildlife markets are a recipe for a pandemic. China needs to close these down immediately,” they said.
The country – which has seen a total of 3,300 deaths due to the pandemic – has also been blamed for a shortage of personal protective equipment for UK medics as they battle the highly contagious virus.
Chinese leaders are said to have bulk-bought supplies such as face masks and gowns from Western countries, and requisitioned vast quantities which had been destined for export as they battled the pandemic.
The chief executive of JSP, a UK safety equipment firm, says it had two of its factories in China taken over by the government to make respiratory protection equipment.
Mr Johnson is now likely to face renewed pressure to reverse plans to allow Huawei, the Chinese technology, to build a significant proportion of the UK’s 5G network.
China reported just 45 new coronavirus cases yesterday, down from 54 the previous day.
Although there were five deaths reported in Wuhan on Saturday, this marked the fourth day in a row with no confirmed new cases.
The epicentre of the outbreak is now gradually reopening its borders and restarting local transportation services.
A total of 81,439 infections have been reported in the country, with 3,300 deaths.