Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra he had written to the Group of 20 government leaders calling for a "proper assessment" of the origins of and government response to the pandemic of Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Members of staff of the Wuhan Hygiene Emergency Response Team conduct searches on the closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei Province, on January 11, 2020, where the Wuhan health commission said a man who died from a respiratory illness, possibly Covid-19, had purchased goods.
Members of staff of the Wuhan Hygiene Emergency Response Team conduct searches on the closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei Province, on January 11, 2020, where the Wuhan health commission said a man who died from a respiratory illness, possibly Covid-19, had purchased goods. (AFP)

Australia's prime minister said again on Tuesday that it is likely the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese wildlife wet market, despite US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advocating a theory that it began in a laboratory.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra he had written to the Group of 20 government leaders calling for a "proper assessment" of the origins of and government responses to the pandemic of Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Pompeo, who has backed Australia's call for an independent review, told ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that there is "enormous evidence" that the virus began in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, May 1, 2020.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP)

Fauci agrees with science

Top US epidemiologist Anthony Fauci echoed the WHO's statement in an interview published on Monday evening by National Geographic.

"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, (the scientific evidence) is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated," Fauci told the magazine.

"Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that (this virus) evolved in nature and then jumped species," he said.

The institute, which is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is about 13 kilometres from a market that is considered a possible source of the virus.

Asked about the lab theory, Morrison told reporters Australia works closely with the US and cannot rule out potential origins. But he said a wet market was “most likely” the origin of the pandemic.

China has dismissed calls for an international inquiry independent of the World Health Organization and has accused Australia of parroting the US.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

But the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by those with mild or no visible symptoms.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and could lead to death.

Source: Reuters