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Chinese ambassador dismisses allegations of coronavirus origin

Lin Songtian has on Friday hosted a media briefing on progress made by China to fight the COVID19.To date, no confirmed cases have been

FILE: China's ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian in Pretoria. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Amid concerns over the spread of a new coronavirus, China's ambassador said exotic animal dishes were practically a phased-out tradition.

China's Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian was reacting to allegations that the consumption of exotic animals in the City of Wuhan set in motion the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus in December.

Lin addressed media in Cape Town earlier on Friday. Wuhan, in China's Hubei province, is the epicentre of the outbreak.

Almost 64,000 people have been infected in China and more than 1,380 have died.

Songtian dismissed allegations of the virus's origin, saying scientists were still piecing the puzzle together.

“More and more people understand how to live in harmony between nature and people.”

Lin said effective and resolute measures were implemented by the Chinese government to contain and control the spread of the virus.

In South Africa, 71 people have been tested for COVID-19, and all the test results have come back negative.

Lin reiterated that it was unsafe and risky for foreign nationals to return to their home countries amid the outbreak.

Earlier this month, Chinese nationals living in South Africa told Eyewitness News that they were conscious of the effect the coronavirus was having on their businesses.

While there are no confirmed cases here on home soil, South Africa has stepped up screening in a bid to keep it that way.

There's a stark contrast in Cyrildene, in Johannesburg, between people wearing surgical masks and those going about their normal activities.

WATCH: SA Chinese community faces racial stereotypes amid coronavirus outbreak