China: Huanan Seafood Market Believed To Be Linked To SARS-like Virus

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The food market where China's deadly coronavirus surfaced was a smorgasbord of exotic wildlife ranging from wolf pups to species linked to previous pandemics.

Written By Bhavya Sukheja | Mumbai | Updated On:
China

The food market where China's deadly coronavirus surfaced was a smorgasbord of exotic wildlife ranging from wolf pups to species linked to previous pandemics such as civets, a Chinese local media reported. According to international media reports, the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan city came under scrutiny as the virus which has already killed nine people and infected almost 400 may have originated in a wild animal sold at the local market. 

Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese centre for disease control and prevention reportedly said that the authorities believe that the SARS-like virus came from 'wild animals at the seafood market' as it sells animal-based products including foxes, crocodiles, rats, peacocks. However, Gao also said that the exact source of the virus still remains undetermined. According to reports, China bans the trafficking of a number of wild species or requires licenses, but the regulations are, however, loose for some species if they are commercially farmed. 

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also announced on January 20 that it will assemble an emergency committee on the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) discovered in China under the International Health Regulations. The meeting will be headed by Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the members will meet on January 22 to decide whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, along with discussing the recommendations to manage the spread of the virus.

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The mystery strain

It was WHO which confirmed several cases of a novel coronavirus outside China, which is of the same family as the deadly SARS virus. The UN health agency had said that the person travelling from Wuhan, China was hospitalised in Thailand and is recovering from the illness. According to the organisation, novel coronavirus is a new strain in the large family of coronaviruses (CoV) which was not identified in humans before.

CoV can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). CoV is zoonotic which means such viruses transmit between animals and humans.

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