Experts from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said the virus was first caught by humans from animals at the food market, where everything from snakes, rats, beavers, wolf cubs and even koalas were reportedly on sale.
As reported by state-owned Xinhua news agency, the CDC said: “Thirty-one of the 33 positive samples were collected from the western zone of the market, where booths of wildlife trading concentrated.
“The result suggests that the novel coronavirus outbreak is highly relevant to the trading of wild animals.”
Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, had previously blamed the site for the killer illness, saying: “The origin of the new coronavirus is the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan seafood market.”
He added that it was clear ‘this virus is adapting and mutating’.
The World Health Organisation also reported that The Huanan Seafood Market was closed on 1 January 2020 for environmental sanitation and disinfection.
According to a report, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been in regular and direct contact with Chinese authorities, as well as those in Japan, the Republic of Korean and Thailand, since the reporting of these cases.
These authorities have shared information with the WHO under international health regulations. The organisation is also informing other countries about the situation and providing support as requested.
The virus has been noted for to its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people back in 2002-2003.
However, Chinese authorities have said, like normal flu, the virus is able to spread during its incubation period and before any symptoms have appeared – something that would set it apart from cases like SARS and Ebola and make it much harder to contain.
According to WHO, the incubation period can range from two to 10 days.
CBS that at least 106 people have died in China from the new virus, which as been officially dubbed ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ (2019-nCoV).
As of 27 January, the number of total cases confirmed by China rose to 4,515 – up from 2,835 just one day earlier.
Authorities also confirmed on Monday that a 50-year-old man had died in Beijing, marking the first fatality in the Chinese capital from the virus.