A new report from the South China University of Technology suggests that the deadly COVID-19, more popularly known as the novel coronavirus, may have originated at the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control (WCDC) and the Wuhan Centre for Virology. This new information refutes initial theories about the origins of the endemic virus, which has infected at least 69,000 and killed 1,667 globally since it was discovered in early January.

Previous reports claimed that COVID-19 originated from the Hunan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, which is known to sell contraband animals such as bats and wolves for human consumption. Scientists initially believed the epidemic started as the novel coronavirus had jumped from the exotic animals to humans.

However, a new paper from the South China University of Technology, titled “The Possible Origins of the 2019-nCoV Coronavirus,” concludes that the killer virus did not originate from the Wuhan Market itself but from a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan, located just 300 yards from the seafood market.

Written by scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao, the paper claims that the WCDC could have spawned the contagion in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located. Before the disease started to spread in early January, the facility had kept disease-ridden animals, 605 of which were bats. The paper also mentions that bats once urinated on and attacked a researcher in the lab and “blood of bat was on his skin.” The said researcher reportedly quarantined himself after the incident.

“Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus Affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat),” the paper reads. According to the paper, the type of bat that originally sourced the novel coronavirus was not native to Wuhan but lived over 600 miles away. This bat was the species used in the WCDC prior to the outbreak.

“The WCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital, where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic,” the paper says. “It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study,” it continues.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 rages on as death toll from the disease continues to rise. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the outbreak will likely remain a global health issue for the rest of the year.

corona virus The novel coronavirus has already infected thousands in China. World Health Organization (WHO) / Facebook