SYDNEY (Reuters) – The nations of the world must do everything possible to understand the origins of COVID-19, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday, comments that could exacerbate tensions with China.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, Morrison said examining the virus̵
“This virus has wreaked havoc on our world and its people. We must do everything we can to understand what happened for no other purpose than to prevent it from happening again, ”Morrison said over a conference call video link.
“There is a clear mandate to identify the zoonotic source of the COVID-19 virus and how it can be transmitted to humans.”
Morrison’s comments came after similar comments from the prime minister earlier in the year that hurt Australia-China relations.
At the time, he led global calls for an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. China strongly opposed the move, and Beijing’s ambassador in Canberra warned that the calls to investigate could affect trade relations.
Since then, China has imposed trade sanctions on Australia. Some beef imports have been suspended for technical reasons and barley trade of A $ 439 million (USD 308.5 million) has been effectively blocked by imposing tariffs of 80.5% on Australian imports. China has also launched an anti-dumping probe on Australian wine imports.
Meanwhile, Australia urged all nations to share a COVID-19 vaccine if one were to be developed.
Australia signed a vaccination agreement with AstraZeneca earlier this year AZN.LThe first batches are to be delivered in January 2021 if the trials prove successful.
Australia has announced that it will share supplies with smaller Pacific island nations.
($ 1 = 1.4231 Australian dollars)
Reporting from Colin Packham; Adaptation by Cynthia Osterman