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Petition urges US gov’t to clarify army lab shutdown as doubts grow over COVID-19’s origin

(People's Daily Online)    10:39, March 21, 2020

Speculation over COVID-19’s origin continues to grow, with some people demanding that the US government disclose more information on the closure of a US Army biological laboratory that may be connected to the outbreak.

On March 10, a petition was launched on the White House’s website, asking the US government to publish the real reason behind the closure of Fort Detrick. (Screenshot of the White House website)

On March 10, a petition was launched on the White House’s website, asking the US government to make public the real reason for the closure of Fort Detrick, a prominent military germ lab, and to clarify whether the laboratory is the research unit for the new coronavirus "COVID19" and whether there was a virus leak.

The Fort Detrick lab is the US Army’s top germ lab in Fredrick, Maryland. It studies deadly infectious material such as Ebola and smallpox, and was abruptly shut down in August 2019.

According to media reports, the decision was made out of safety concerns after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the organization had failed to put in place systems sufficiently capable of decontaminating wastewater and lacked “periodic recertification training for workers in the biocontainment laboratories.”

The CDC could not provide more specific details due to “national security reasons,” the New York Times reported.

The petition listed a series of conspicuous events in chronological order, showing unexplainable lab-related issues and a possible link between the lab and the coronavirus. For example, the pneumonia of undetermined origin was found in China in November 2019 right after the United States organized Event 201, a global pandemic exercise, with the participation of the Deputy Director of the CIA in October.

The petition also noted that a large number of English news reports about the closure of Fort Detrick were deleted this month, displaying a “404 not found” page.

As of press time, the petition garnered less than 600 signatures, far from the 100,000-signature threshold required to receive an official response from the White House.

On March 13, Zhao Lijian retweeted a website link that provided further evidence that the virus originated in the US. (Screenshot of Zhao Lijian’s Twitter)

The petition came days before Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Twitter that the lethal virus could have been brought over to Wuhan by the US army. Zhao later retweeted a website link that provided further evidence that the virus originated in the US. The website speculated that the virus had gone from Ft. Detrick to e-cigarettes to Hawaii then to Wuhan.

“This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it,” Zhao tweeted.

“Why Fort Detrick military lab was shut down? Why flu-season came earlier all of sudden? What caused vaping pneumonia? Why not allow people to do coronavirus testing? What are you trying to hide? You own everyone an explanation,” Twitter user Julius Ryde commented, directly addressing President Trump.

In response to Zhao’s claims, another Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said recently that the international community, including the United States, have different views on the source of the virus and that “this is a scientific issue and requires scientific and professional opinions”.

At a press conference on March 18, China’s chief medical advisor Zhong Nanshan rejected the widely held assertion that the virus originated in Wuhan and slammed such claims as irresponsible.

“The epidemic of the novel coronavirus pneumonia indeed took place in China, in Wuhan… but it does not mean its source is in Wuhan,” Zhong said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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