Deadly coronavirus outbreak DID start at the wild animal meat market in Wuhan where snakes, rats, beavers, foxes, wolf cubs and peacocks are caged and slaughtered to order, tests confirm

The deadly Chinese coronavirus outbreak began at a wholesale animal market in Wuhan city, experts have confirmed.

Scientists from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said tests proved humans caught it from animals at the Huanan Seafood Wholesales Market.

It is not clear which animal was carrying the pneumonia-like illness but the market was home to stalls trading dozens of different species, including rats and wolf cubs.

Last week experts suggested the disease may have originated in snakes, which are known carriers of coronaviruses.

The Huanan market was a hotspot with locals, who could choose to buy their meat ‘warm’ meaning it had been slaughtered just moment prior.

‘Thirty-one of the 33 positive samples were collected from the western zone of the market, where booths of wildlife trading concentrated,’ the CDC said, according to China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency.

‘The result suggests that the novel coronavirus outbreak is highly relevant to the trading of wild animals.’

The epidemic has so far claimed the lives of more than 80 people and infected nearly 3,000 in a month – but experts predict that number to be closer to 100,000.

Chinese authorities temporarily barred the trading of wild animals on Sunday. The Government said those who ignored the ban would be ‘severely investigated and punished’.

The Huanan Seafood Market in the central city of Wuhan came under scrutiny after Chinese officials said the coronavirus may have originated in a wild animal sold at the food emporium.

The market has since been closed and has been labelled ‘ground zero’ by local authorities.

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