US President Donald Trump has used his address to the United Nations General Assembly to call for harsh punishment to be meted out on China, who he blames for infecting the globe with the coronavirus.

World leaders are converging in a virtual meeting for the general assembly. Taking centre stage at the event are the challenges, effectiveness and solidarity of the 193-member world body, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump claimed China was continuously disregarding the well-being and safety of all nations and had to account.

“We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague unto the world, China. In the earliest days of the virus, China locked down travel domestically while allowing flights to leave China and infect the world. The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions in addition every year China dumps millions and millions of tons of plastic and trash into the oceans, overfishes other countries’ waters, destroys vast swathes of coral reef and emits more toxic mercury into the atmosphere than any country anywhere in the world. ”

This is not the first time Trump has ripped into China regarding COVID-19.

In May, he said he was very disappointed in China over its failure to contain the novel coronavirus, saying the worldwide pandemic cast a pall over his US-China trade deal.

The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, in December and was spreading silently as Washington and Beijing signed a Phase 1 trade deal hailed by the Republican president as a major achievement.

“I’m very disappointed in China,” the Republican president said in an interview broadcast at the time.

“They should have never let this happen. So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me,” Trump said.

Under the Phase 1 deal signed in January, Beijing pledged to buy at least $200 billion in additional US goods and services over two years while Washington agreed to roll back tariffs in stages on Chinese goods.

A Chinese state-run newspaper reported that some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks and possibly invalidating the agreement.

Trump said again he was not interested in renegotiating.

While US intelligence agencies said the virus did not appear to be manmade or genetically modified, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said early in May there is “a significant amount of evidence” the virus came from a laboratory in Wuhan.

His comments followed Trump’s assertion on April 30 that he was confident the coronavirus may have originated in a Chinese virology lab. –Additional reporting from Reuters