Chinese health officials knew that Huanan’s market Wuhan he was at «disease risk 5 years earlier» that the pandemic of Covid: claims an Australian scientist. Professor Eddie Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, said he was taken on a market tour by public health officials to the city that became infamous for the virus as early as 2014. Although the exact origin of the pandemic is still unknown, it is thought. that the disease first emerged in the market, where caged wild animals were kept in close contact with crowds of humans. Professor Holmes told The Telegraph: «The discussion was: where could a disease emerge? Well here’s the place, that’s why I went there».
Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a ban on all global sales of living wild mammals in markets in an effort to prevent more diseases from being passed from animals to humans. The best theories of scientists suggest that the coronavirus has emerged for the first time in bats before transmitting to a larger animal, potentially a pangolin, which has been captured by people and taken to a market where the infection has spread. WHO and US intelligence officials are also investigating the possibility – not yet denied – that the virus leaked from a laboratory where scientists were studying it.
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The Wuhan food market is where people can buy food and drinks like in a regular market, but some of this type – known as wet markets – also sell live animals that have been caught wild and then caged by vendors. Huanan Market had one of these wild sections, where the stalls can sell unusual or even rare animals, including snakes, beavers and porcupines. Government officials were photographed catching a salamander out of the market in January last year. Professor Holmes said: «I’ve been to a few of these markets, but this has been amazing. It looked like a disease incubator, exactly the kind of place you’d expect a disease to emerge».
The link to the Huanan food market was established at the very beginning of the Covid pandemic, when officials found that around a third of the first 168 infected people were there just days earlier.
Cases have started to crop up in people across the city, home to around 10 million inhabitants, but the original outbreak was clearly linked to the market. It is unclear whether the virus first spread from an animal to a person within the market – known as a spillover event – or whether it was the host of a super shedding event when someone who had already been infected entered the crowd there. Some researchers suggest that the virus was contracted by a farmer or by a visitor from a more rural area who then introduced it to the market and triggered an epidemic.
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Professor Holmes added: «In my mind, the wildlife trade is the most likely source. The role of that market is still uncertain, but there was clearly a lot of transmission and, to me, it smells like there’s a strong bond. We have to follow it to the end».