The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is thought to have stemmed from a wet market in the Chinese province of Wuhan towards the end of last year. But China has been accused of suppressing early information about the outbreak, with US President Donald Trump continuing to vent his fury. The deadly disease has already killed nearly 230,000 throughout the world, with more than 3.2million confirmed infections in some 200 countries.
The UK – despite its relatively small size compared to other global superpowers – currently has the fourth highest number of fatalities from coronavirus in the world, with the death toll surging past 26,000.
More than 165,000 confirmed cases have been announced as the country continues its struggle to bring the deadly outbreak under control.
Britain, like many other countries, has been in a strict lockdown for five weeks, with all indications pointing to this possibly extending in some form for many weeks to come.
The Government has already made several spending pledges totalling hundreds of billions of pounds in a desperate attempt to keep the country afloat.
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But while the lockdown has forced businesses to temporarily close, many have collapsed completely, with millions of jobs being lost as a result.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already warned the UK economy could plunge by as much as 35 percent in the current April to June quarter.
Now the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now under increasing pressure to take a tougher stance towards China in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.
Earlier this week, Mr Trump warned the US is now considering taking “substantial” financial action against China over the COVID-19 outbreak.
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A statement from the state said: “In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real – thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table.
“The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease.
“They must be held accountable for their actions.”
But these comments have sparked a furious reaction from China, which has warned Mr Trump to stop demanding coronavirus compensation, branding the President’s calls for reparations “blackmail”.
China’s Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng, the deputy to China’s President Xi Jinping, warned Beijing would not pay up for any damages.
Speaking to NBC, Mr Le called Trump’s demands “preposterous” and a “political farce”.
He said: “Asking China to make reparations for these kinds of claims – they have no legal basis.
“There is no international law that supports blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease.”