New Zealand is reportedly among 62 nations that have come together to back Australia's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian newspaper reported that it had obtained a draft resolution to be put to the World Health Assembly on Tuesday which was backed by key nations including India, Japan, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, and all 27 EU member states.

It demands World Health Organisation director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus "initiate at the earliest appropriate moment … a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation" of the international response to the pandemic, the actions of the WHO and its timeline of the pandemic.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Photo / AP
Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Photo / AP

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office told the Herald Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield would "represent New Zealand's interests (virtually) tomorrow".


But the spokeswoman could not confirm an "exact position" on the resolution.

"NZ's position has been for an independent inquiry into the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the origin and development of the pandemic, as there are always things we can learn to improve our collective response to global health.

"Also, last week NZ joined a number of countries in expressing support for Taiwan's participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly on 18-19 May. We have long emphasised in our engagement with the World Health Organisation the importance of inclusivity and non-politicisation in global health matters.

The Australian reported that the international support would "infuriate" Beijing, which has previously threatened Australia with a Chinese consumer boycott over the pursuit of the probe by Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government.

The assembly, held virtually because of travel restrictions, on Monday and Tuesday and focus on coronavirus. The motion is due to be put forward on Tuesday morning.

Australia's foreign Minister Marise Payne first revealed Australia would push for the review on April 19. It sparked diplomatic and trade backlash from China.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo / Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo / Getty Images

The reference to WHO will also allow the body's alleged slowness in responding to the pandemic to be examined, as well as its praise for China's response despite Beijing's concealment of the virus during the early weeks and punishment of whistleblowing doctors, The Australian reported.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged all countries to join Australia's call for answers. President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO last month and Morrison has said he sympathises with some of the US president's criticism of the organisation.


Australia's Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said today he tried to set up a phone call with his Chinese counterpart to soothe growing tensions, but he had not had a response, 9 News reported.

China was threatening to put a large tariff on barley imports following an anti-dumping investigation and it has blocked beef imports from four abattoirs.

The full list of countries backing the resolution reportedly includes: Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Moldova, the Russian Federation, San Marino, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the European Union and its member states, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Zambia.