Chinese authorities have made an astonishing claim that coronavirus may have arrived via imported frozen food from countries including Australia.


An article in the Global Times over the weekend argued that Western countries had attempted to “shift the narrative from their own shortcomings” by accusing Wuhan of being “where the coronavirus began”.


“As the mounting sporadic outbreaks in China were found to be related to imported cold-chain products, with other parts of the world, including Europe and the American continent, reportedly discovering signs of the coronavirus earlier than Wuhan, it begs a new hypothesis – did the early outbreak in Wuhan originate from imported frozen food?” the publication wrote.


Western scientists believe the disease passed from bats to another animal species and then to humans in Wuhan.


Coronavirus cases were first reported in the Chinese city in December last year before the disease spread rapidly around the world, causing 1.5million deaths and wrecking economies.


The Global Times article admits that there is as yet no evidence, but that the theory “cannot be ruled out”. Its reporters spoke to a number of former merchants from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, with one claiming “actually the frozen products in China are clean, but I don’t know about those from abroad”.


The report comes after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus, sparking political and economic tension between Australia and China after Beijing slapped a 212 percent tariff on Aussie wine and shared doctored propaganda images referencing war crimes allegations against Australian troops in Afghanistan.


Facing international criticism over its handling of the initial outbreak, China has pushed back, saying that the virus may have started overseas and arrived on frozen food packaging.


Chinese officials have previously claimed to have detected coronavirus on frozen products including chicken wings from Brazil, squid from Russia, shrimp from Ecuador, pork from Germany, and salmon from Norway.