The spread of the deadly coronavirus could be linked to a secret laboratory where researchers have been attacked by bats, Chinese virus experts claim.

While the Chinese government said the outbreak started inside a wet market in Wuhan, scientists from South China University of Technology in Guangzhou said the possible origin of the virus could be from Wuhan Center for Disease Control (WCDC).

Scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao published a research journal titled ‘The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus’ on Research Gate, where they claimed WCDC ‘hosted animals in laboratories for research purposes’, including 605 bats captured in the Hubei and Zhejiang provinces.

The report mentioned one researcher, known as JH Tian, ‘was once attacked by bats’ and that ‘the blood of bat was on his skin’.

The lab is located 280 metres from the infamous wet market and adjacent to the Union hospital where the first group of doctors was infected.

It read: “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.”

A second laboratory, located at approximately 12km from the wet market, was mentioned in the report, as it said: “This laboratory reported that the Chinese horseshoe bats were natural reservoirs for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) which caused the SARS outbreak in 2003.”

The laboratory is said to belong to Wuhan Institute of Virology and is classified as P4, the highest level of biosafety laboratory.

The plague has since spread to over 24 countries around the world and infected over 58,000 people.

A total of 1,666 people on the Chinese mainland have died from the illness as of February 15, according to real-time figures provided by China’s National Health Commission.

READ MORE

Top News Stories From Mirror Online

  • Storm Dennis: Danger to life warning
  • African ‘ghost ship’ on Irish coast
  • Storm Dennis: Tesla autopilot to rescue
  • ISIS bride’s ‘life fell apart’

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist was the first person to die of coronavirus in Europe.

The pensioner had been in intensive care at Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in Paris for more than two weeks until he passed away on February 15.

There are currently nine cases of coronavirus confirmed in the UK, with eight of those patients having now recovered.