Pompeo expects WHO probe in China to be ‘completely whitewashed’

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday he expected a World Health Organization (WHO) investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus in China to be “completely whitewashed”.

Nearly 580,000 people globally have died from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and more than 13 million have been infected following an outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, last year.

The Geneva-based WHO said it was sending a team to China in early July to investigate how the outbreak started.

“This is a regime that failed to disclose the information they had about a virus that has now killed over 100,000 Americans … and now it is allowing the World Health Organization to go in to conduct what I am confident will be a completely, completely whitewashed investigation,” Pompeo told reporters.

The United States is the WHO’s most prominent critic, and has said it is leaving the UN agency.

President Donald Trump, who has been harshly criticised for his response to the outbreak in the US, which has the world’s highest death toll at more than 136,000 people, has sought to blame China.

“I hope I am wrong. I hope it’s a thorough investigation that gets fully to the bottom, but I have watched the Chinese Communist Party’s behaviour with respect to the virus that emanated from Wuhan and they have simply refused,” Pompeo said.

“They have destroyed samples. They have taken journalists and doctors who were prepared to talk about this and not permitted them to do what nations that want to play on a truly global scale and global stage ought to do: be transparent, and open, and communicate and cooperate,” he said.