Wuhan lab blamed for coronavirus LIED about safety precautions it took during controversial bat tests

THE laboratory at the heart of the world’s coronavirus pandemic lied about taking safety precautions when collecting bat samples, The Sun can exclusively reveal.

Shocking leaked photos – which reveal a scandalous lack of safety – were deleted from the website of under-fire China science hub the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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One worker admitted being sprayed with bat blood or urine as images showed staff brazenly collecting samples with no face masks or protective suits.

Incredibly some scientists didn’t even wear gloves as they entered caves to collect fecal bat swab samples, beaming for the camera and oblivious to the dangers.

The damning photos tell a different story to an official 2017 journal, when the institute insisted: "Bat samplings were conducted ten times from April 2011 to October 2015 at different seasons in their natural habitat at a single location (cave) in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China.

“All members of field teams wore appropriate personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, tear-resistant gloves, disposable outerwear, and safety glasses.

“Bats were trapped and fecal swab samples were collected as described previously.”

But The Sun can reveal a page of the institute’s website – deleted suddenly last month – shows no such safety precautions were employed.

One of the party even gave an interview to state-run news agency Xinhua, admitting he forgot his protective gear and was sprayed with bat urine or blood.

Intelligence sources in the US and UK were “monitoring the deleted photos with great interest”, The Sun was told last night.

Matthew Henderson, director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society, and a former British diplomat in China, told The Sun: "China has still not clearly explained how the outbreak started, without it we are obliged to draw our own conclusions.

“There is ample evidence of such a cavalier approach to biosecurity by Chinese scientists based in Wuhan laboratories that it is no surprise that western Governments are now seriously considering whether COVID-19 could have escaped from one."

Earlier this month photos from the same Wuhan lab showed a broken seal on a store containing 1,500 virus strains – including the bat coronavirus linked to the devastating pandemic.

The images were published by the state-owned China Daily before they too were swiftly deleted.

A picture of the fridge-freezer revealed a flimsy loose seal on the door, as a lab worker pulled out a chilled box containing deadly samples while wearing gloves and a mask.

US and British intelligence officials suspect bungling scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology accidentally spread the killer disease during risky coronavirus tests on bats.

It was claimed that Covid-19 was "developed in the Wuhan lab as China hoped to prove it's greater than the US at battling deadly diseases".

Several insiders claimed the deadly bug wasn't manufactured as a bioweapon but to prove China was on par with – or superior to – the US, in its ability to fight infections.

“Patient zero" was a laboratory worker at the Wuhan lab who spread the virus into the community, sources said.

When US President Donald Trump was asked about the extraordinary claims, he said: "More and more we’re hearing the story.

"And we'll see. We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened."

Blaming the Wuhan meat market – where bats are not sold – was reportedly an effort to deflect blame from the communist government when the lab's containment efforts failed.

US officials warned two years ago that safety lapses during the study of bats could lead to a coronavirus outbreak.

Secret cables from American embassy officials were obtained following their 2018 visits to the Wuhan lab now at the centre of a global focus.

The missives revealed fears of inadequate safety precautions by those conducting the bat studies could result in a deadly new strain of coronavirus.

One US official said: “The cable was a warning shot. They were begging people to pay attention to what was going on.”

The cables reveal that the US Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In 2015, the lab had become China’s first to achieve the highest level of international bioresearch safety.

But the cables argued that the US should give the Wuhan lab further support – because its research on bat coronaviruses was important but dangerous.

In 2017 the institute published research showing that horseshoe bats they collected from a cave in Yunnan province were very likely from the same population that spawned the 2003 SARS virus.

The Chinese government has put a total lockdown on information related to the virus origins.

Beijing has yet to provide samples of the coronavirus collected from the earliest cases.

Officials at the Wuhan lab have dismissed allegations coronavirus came from their facility, branding them ‘baseless conspiracy theories’.

But genetic evidence indicates the virus was not artificially engineered and likely originated in bats.

The genetic data cannot yet indicate exactly where and how the virus first crossed to humans.

China President Xi Jinping warned the public about the virus on January 20 – when more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence.

During the six days the world was unaware of the virus, the city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the global outbreak – hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people, and millions began to travel through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

On March 11, the virus was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Other reports have also emerged alleging China attempted to cover up its role in the extent of the pandemic by silencing whistleblowers and muzzling scientists, while concerned doctors have ominously disappeared.

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