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The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that coronavirus is 'unlikely' to have originated from bats in Wuhan, as was initially believed.
The organisation sent members to the Chinese city last month to look for clues about the origins of the virus, and they have now concluded their research.
The WHO's Peter Ben Embarek said the team's work on identifying the virus' origins continue to point towards natural reservoir of the virus - and similar viruses - in bat population, but that it is unlikely that they were in Wuhan.
Embarek, who is the WHO's food safety and animal disease specialist and chairman of the investigation team, said: "Since Wuhan is not a city or environment close to this environment, a direct jump from bats to the city of Wuhan is not very likely."
Embarek said the team has possible leads of other animal species, which they will explore when looking at the Huanan market supply chain.
He added: "The search for the possible route of introduction through different animal species and the specific reservoir are still a work in progress."
Embarek said there was no evidence that Covid-19 was spreading in Wuhan before December 2019, after officials looked at research samples, pharmaceutical sales and hospital records.
There was also no evidence of 'large outbreaks' before December 2019 in Wuhan or elsewhere, he added.
He explained the recent Wuhan investigation has uncovered new information, but has not dramatically altered the picture of the outbreak.
Embarek said the exact role of the market in Wuhan remains unknown.
He said: "There was spread among people who were [there] and lived and worked and visited the Huanan market throughout December.
"How it was introduced and spread within the market is still unknown. We have a map and have mapped over time the spread of the virus among the earlier cases that were linked to the market. We have a picture of where the cases worked in the market.
"We have genetic sequences for some of these cases... All that tells us there was a spread among people in Huanan market in December and therefore the market probably was a setting where that kind of spread could happen easily, but it's not the whole story.
"We know there was also spread among individuals who were not linked to this market. They were linked to other markets... So the picture is not clear in that respect."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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