Donald Trump has claimed to have seen evidence that the coronavirus outbreak originated from an infectious disease laboratory in Wuhan.
The US president speculated that China could have unleashed Covid-19 on the world due to some kind of horrible “mistake”, and even put forward the idea the release was intentional.
It comes as his intelligence agencies said they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.
US intelligence agencies have debunked a conspiracy theory, saying they have concluded that coronavirus was “not man-made or genetically modified”
Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump said: “It’s a terrible thing that happened.
“Whether they made a mistake or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose.”
The Chinese government said that any claims that the coronavirus was released from a laboratory are “unfounded and purely fabricated out of nothing”.
Mr Trump has repeatedly blamed China for its handling of the outbreak, criticising the country for restricting domestic travel to slow the virus but not international travel to keep it from spreading abroad.
“Certainly it could have been stopped,” Mr Trump said during an event in the East Room on his administration’s efforts to aid seniors during the outbreak.
“They either couldn’t do it from a competence standpoint, or they let it spread.”
“It got loose, let’s say, and they could have capped it.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “I would like to point out again that the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue, and it should be studied by scientists and professionals.”
He also criticised those in the US who say China should be held accountable for the global pandemic, saying they should spend their time on “better controlling the epidemic situation at home.”