New Study Suggests Coronavirus Started In Bats
Bats are the most likely source of the killer coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Researchers compared the 2019-nCoV genetic sequence with a library of viral sequences and found the most closely related viruses were two coronaviruses that originated in bats - sharing 88 percent of the same genetic sequence.
The study's authors say this link points towards the virus starting at bats. However, according to the report, no bats were sold at the Huanan seafood market - where the virus originated - so there could be another animal in the middle of the chain, passing the disease from bat to human.
The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's Guizhen Wu, who co-authored the study, wrote: "It seems likely that another animal host is acting as an intermediate host between bats and humans."
The new study adds weight to a previous one, which also singled out bats as the most likely cause.
A research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the People's Liberation Army and Institut Pasteur of Shanghai released a statement alongside their study to say: "The Wuhan coronavirus' natural host could be bats... but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate."
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The death toll from the coronavirus currently stands at 170, and the disease has now spread to every region in China. Officials in China have said there has been 7,711 confirmed cases in the country.
The coronavirus has so far spread to 16 other countries.
China has worked around the clock to get new hospitals built to help care for patients. One facility, in Huanggang City, was opened within 48 hours and will be able to provide treatment for around 1,000 patients.
Three other hospitals are planned for nearby Wuhan and will be able to treat thousands of patients between them once up and running.
Featured Image Credit: PA