Beijing: China has rejected the World Health Organisation’s plan for holding a second phase of investigation into the origins of Coronavirus. The second phase of the study includes the hypothesis that the virus could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory, a top health official told Reuters.Also Read - President Xi Jinping Deploys Army After 13 People Killed in Massive Central China Floods

A senior Chinese health official said he was shocked by the World Health Organisation’s plan for the second phase of a COVID-19 origins study. National Health Commission Vice Minister Zeng Yixin dismissed the lab leak theory as a rumor running counter to common sense.

“We will not accept such an origins-tracing plan as it, in some aspects, disregards common sense and defies science,” Reuters quoted Zeng as telling reporters.

Zeng called the theory a rumor that goes against science.

The head of the World Health Organisation last week acknowledged it was premature to rule out a potential link between the Covid-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak and said he is asking China to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus.

In a rare departure from his usual deference to powerful member countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said getting access to raw data had been a challenge for the international team that traveled to China earlier this year to investigate the source of Covid-19. The first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

He said there had been a premature push to rule out the theory that the virus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan – undermining WHO’s own March report, which concluded that a laboratory leak was extremely unlikely.

(With PTI inputs)