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Wuhan lab head says claims coronavirus leaked from facility are ‘pure fabrication’

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Claims promoted by the Trump administration that the global coronavirus pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city are a “pure fabrication,” the institute’s director said.

Wang Yanyi was quoted by state media Sunday as saying the institute did not have “any knowledge before that nor had we ever met, researched or kept the virus ? We didn’t even know about the existence of the virus, so how could it be leaked from our lab when we didn’t have it?”

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly said they suspect the virus that was first detected in Wuhan was somehow released from the laboratory.

Most scientists say the pathogen that has infected 5.3 million and killed more than 342,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, was passed from bats to humans via an intermediary species likely sold at a wet market in Wuhan late last year.

The virus’ toll continued to ebb in Asia and other parts of the world, with China on Sunday reporting three new confirmed cases and just 79 people remaining in treatment for COVID-19.

The New York Times devoted Sunday’s entire front page to a long list of names of people who have died in the pandemic.

The names and brief descriptions culled from obituaries from around the country fill six columns under the headline “U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, an Incalculable Loss.”

“They Were Not Simply Names on a List. They Were Us,” read the subheadline.

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In Australia, officials said 6 million residents have downloaded a mobile telephone app that helps health authorities trace coronavirus infections. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the COVIDSafe app is playing a strong role in Australia’s response to the disease.

The U.S. is continuing a cautious state-by-state reopening.A pasta company in Spokane, Washington, announced there was an outbreak at its plant, while the Alaska Baseball League cancelled its summer season. The five-team league is made up of college players from mostly the Lower 48 but also from places as far away as Taiwan.

Trump played golf at one of his courses Saturday during the Memorial Day weekend as he urged U.S. states to relax their lockdowns. Yet many Americans remained cautious as the number of confirmed cases nationwide passed 1.6 million.

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