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Beijing made the announcement on Wednesday following weeks of criticism over its handling of the epidemic. China’s ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun told reporters in Geneva investigators would be permitted to carry out work but only after the coronavirus crisis has come to an end. His announcement comes as the global death toll from the virus hits more than 3.7million.

China has rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that the virus escaped from a lab in the city of Wuhan, where the illness was first detected late last year.

Mr Trump has said he has seen evidence to back up his claim.

Most of the earliest cases of coronavirus could be traced back to a wet market in Wuhan.

Wet markets in Asia are often lacking in basic hygiene and sanitation.

China has refused repeated requests by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take part in investigations into the origins of COVID-19.

Dr Gauden Galea, the WHO’s representative in China last week said the organisation has been kept in the dark about what Beijing is doing to find the source of the sickness.

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“The priority is we need to know as much as possible to prevent the reoccurrence.”

Mr Trump has threatened to slap new tariffs on China in retaliation for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

China said on Wednesday tariffs should not be used as a weapon.

Tariffs, in general, hurt all parties involved, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a daily briefing.

“So the United States should stop thinking it can use tariffs as a weapon and a big stick to coerce other countries,” she said.

The United States is at the epicentre of the global outbreak.

More than 1.2million Americans have been diagnosed with the virus.

The country has confirmed more than 72,000 deaths.

China‘s economy shrank by 6.8 percent in the first quarter as economic activity largely ground to a halt because of lockdowns.

It would suffer more pain if the Trump administration were to impose more tariffs.

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