France said on Friday that there was no evidence so far of a link between the new coronavirus and the work of the P4 research laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the current pandemic started.
“We would like to make it clear that there is to this day no factual evidence corroborating the information recently circulating in the United States press that establishes a link between the origins of COVID-19 and the work of the P4 laboratory of Wuhan, China,” an official at President Emmanuel Macron's office said.
Read more: US officials warned of safety concerns at Chinese coronavirus lab in 2018: Report
China on Thursday came under mounting pressure over the coronavirus pandemic from Western powers led by the US, which said it was probing whether the virus that has infected more than 2.1 million people actually originated in a Wuhan laboratory.
The new focus on China's role came as the world wrestles with a crisis that has killed more than 140,000 people and created historic jobless numbers, with Britain, Japan and New York extending lockdown measures.
People wearing protective face masks shop at a chicken stall at a wet market in Shanghai on February 13, 2020. (AFP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone and called efforts to blame Beijing counterproductive.
Xi called attempts to politicize the pandemic "detrimental to international cooperation" and Putin denounced “attempts by some people to smear China,” according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
Read more: ‘No scientific basis’ that the coronavirus was created in Wuhan Lab, says China
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian – who previously outraged the United States by spreading an unfounded theory that US troops introduced the coronavirus in Wuhan – quoted the World Health Organization as saying there was no evidence the virus was produced in a lab.