A top US general says it is still unknown whether the coronavirus emerged from a wet market in China, a laboratory or some other location, but reaffirmed the US view that it was probably not man-made.
"Did it come out of the virology lab in Wuhan? Did it occur in a wet market there in Wuhan? Did it occur somewhere else? And the answer to that is: We don't know," Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference on Tuesday, adding the US government was looking into it.
The remarks stood in contrast to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assessment on Sunday that there was "a significant amount of evidence" that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory.
The US President Donald Trump's administration has been sharpening his rhetoric against China since the new coronavirus emerged in Wuhan in December last year and grew into a global pandemic.
Meanwhile, the New York Times has reported that the White House is putting pressure on American intelligence agencies to provide evidence in support of Trump’s claims about the deadly virus being a laboratory construct.
In February, China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology dismissed rumors that the virus may have been artificially synthesized at one of its laboratories or perhaps escaped from such a facility.
Trump once again claimed on Thursday he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab, but declined to elaborate.