This general view shows an empty Coogee beach in Sydney on April 16, 2020. - All beaches remained closed as Australia on April…
Coogee Beach in Sydney on April 16, 2020. All beaches remained closed as Australia tries to stop the spread of COVID-19.

SYDNEY - Australia is demanding transparency from China in a proposed international investigation into the origins and spread of COVID-19.

Chinese authorities have been under pressure over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak.  U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that China should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible" for the pandemic.

Beijing has dismissed this criticism and has insisted it has been open about the contagion and did take responsible steps to warn the world about the dangers of COVID-19.  The virus is thought to have originated at an animal market in Wuhan.

However, Australia has now joined calls for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and how it spread around the world with such devastating speed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that China’s actions should be thoroughly investigated.

“The key to going forward in the context of these issues is transparency, transparency from China most certainly, transparency from all of the key countries across the world who will be part of any review that takes place,” said Payne. “I think it is fundamental that we identify, we determine an independent review mechanism to examine the development of this epidemic, its development into a pandemic, the crisis that is occurring internationally.”

The government in Canberra is adamant that any global review should not be undertaken by the World Health Organization.

Australian officials have said some of its response to the coronavirus outbreak “was not helpful.”

Australia went against WHO’s advice in early February when it banned travelers arriving from mainland China.  Canberra later closed Australia's borders and imposed strict lockdown measures.  Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia was winning in its campaign against COVID-19 but the battle was far from over.

WHO has called for countries to work together to fight the pandemic.

There are now more than 6,600 cases of the new coronavirus in Australia and 70 people have died from the virus. 

Special Section