A report has revealed over 47,000 wild animals were sold at Wuhan's wet markets prior to the outbreak but none of them is believed to be carriers of the deadly disease.
An investigation was conducted by Chinese and British researchers into the meat products being sold at markets as they try to trace the origin of the variant of coronavirus which began spreading there in late 2019.
In the most detailed record of wild animal sales yet to be published, the scientists estimate that more than 47,000 wild animals were sold in the city’s markets in the two and a half years before the disease emerged, South China Post reports.
Across 17 shops between May 2017 and November 2019, researchers documented the sale of 38 species.
These included mammals such as civet cats, mink, and raccoon dogs, which are known to be susceptible to the virus – although the disease transmission rate is lower.
However, they did not find any evidence that bats or pangolins which are believed to be two possible sources of the transmission of the coronavirus as bats were the source of the SARS outbreak in 2002.
Chinese scientists find all the genetic building blocks of SARS (a strain of coronavirus) in a single population of horseshoe bats back in 2017.
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Researchers, from China West Normal University and Oxford University, said in a statement: "Almost all animals were sold alive, caged, stacked and in poor condition. Most stores offered butchering services, done on-site, with considerable implications for food hygiene and animal welfare."
But despite the source of the virus remains unknown, fears that covid was made in a lab has continued to grow after an error by Chinese officials revealed details of one of the first Covid patients, dating back weeks before the pandemic was meant to have begun.
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A leading Chinese official sent a screen-grab sent to a Chinese medical journal containing the details of a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient Su".
It shows she had the virus in Wuhan almost three weeks before Bejing confirmed they had the first case.
The woman is believed to have lived about a mile from one of the city’s main coronavirus research labs.
She was also close to a stop for the high-speed rail line that played a key role in spreading the virus around the city of 11 million people, the Mail on Sunday reports.
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