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Key piece in the Wuhan puzzle, China's 'bat woman' goes dark

Researcher who tracked SARS origin caught in middle of US-China spat

Shi Zhengli heads the center for emerging infectious diseases at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has been at the center of speculation about the coronavirus.   © Kyodo

BEIJING/TOKYO -- Early this month, as top U.S. officials suggested that the novel coronavirus could have leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, reports surfaced in Western media that a leading researcher at the institute had fled to France with her family and 1,000 pages of confidential research.

Shi Zhengli, director of the center for emerging infectious diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, quickly denied the rumors of her defection in a WeChat post, saying she would never betray her country, according to Chinese media.

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