Scientists Say Bats Could Be Linked To Coronavirus As Videos Of Bat Soup Appear Online
The deadly virus has killed at least 17 people - with China confirming 571 cases for far.
Experts have said in the Chinese Science Bulletin that fruit bats could be hosting the virus, as was the case for SARS.
A statement published in the South China Morning Post: "The Wuhan coronavirus' natural host could be bats... but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate."
The report comes as videos have gone viral showing people tucking into bat soup - considered a delicacy in parts of China.
Clips shared online show a bat floating inside a bowl of broth, while another shows a woman eating a bat with a pair of chopsticks.
Scientists are still unclear on how the virus has spread, but the report found it has a 'strong binding affinity' to a human protein called ACE2. Scientists say this binding protein has a 'high resemblance to that of SARS'.
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) led to an epidemic in China in 2002-03, and is believed to be related to coronavirus.
However, one unnamed researcher from Wuhan Institute of Virology, who did not want to be named, told the South China Morning Post: "It is based on calculation by a computer model.
"Whether it will match what happens in real life is inconclusive.
"The binding protein is important, but it is just one of the many things under investigation. There may be other proteins involved."
Reports claim the virus originated at a seafood market in Wuhan, eastern China.
The city has been placed on lockdown in attempt to stop the virus spreading, meanwhile residents in nearby Huanggang have told to stay put other than under special circumstances.
Today images have appeared online purporting to show a range of exotic meats on sale at the Wuhan market, including koala.
South China Morning Post listed koalas as one of the animals available to be purchased, with animals said to include live foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, snakes, peacocks and koalas.
According to the MailOnline, the menu shows a price of 70 RMB for koala meat which equates to £7.69 or $10.10 USD.
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese centre for disease control and prevention, explained in a report published by Rappler: "We already know that the disease originated from a market which conducted illegal transaction of wild animals.
"This might be the cause, so the disease could be on an animal, and then passed on from this animal to a human."
He added that it was clear 'this virus is adapting and mutating.'
Featured Image Credit: Twitter
Topics: World News