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The Washington Post with a new version of the origins of the pandemic

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A total of 290 farms in Enshi raised between 450,000 and 780,000 animals before being closed in 2020.

Wild animals raised on farms in China could be a mediator through which the new coronavirus was transmitted by bats to humans, writes “Focus”, citing an article in the American edition of The Washington Post, based on the observations of the editors and the opinion of experts.

As the newspaper notes, there are hundreds of caves in Enshi County (Hubei Province) inhabited by at least seven species of bats, one of which has previously been identified with a virus that is 96% identical to SARS-CoV-2. In the immediate vicinity of such caves there are small farms in which thousands of wild animals, such as civets, badgers and raccoons, were raised even before the outbreak of the pandemic.

According to scientists, these animals may be an intermediate in the transmission of the virus from bats to humans.

According to official statistics cited by The Washington Post, a total of 290 farms in Enshi raised between 450,000 and 780,000 animals before being closed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In September, a team from The Washington Post traveled to Enshi, a six-hour drive from Wuhan, where the first case of the new coronavirus was reported in December 2019. As the journalist noted, the mentioned farms are located at a distance of about 1.5 km from the caves.

In addition, people visit the caves for tourist purposes, for speleological research or to replace the drinking water pump located there.

According to The Washington Post, scientists who read the journalist’s observations say that from bats living in caves, the new coronavirus may have been transmitted to other animals and then reached the markets in Wuhan.

One of the newspaper’s sources claims that the wild animals sold at the markets in Wuhan were brought there from Hubei Province, including Enshi.

The World Health Organization (WHO), as part of efforts to study the origins of the new coronavirus, has requested access to areas of the PRC, such as Enshi, where wild animals are kept on farms, but Beijing has refused.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, when asked if bats, wildlife and locals in the county had been tested for coronavirus infection, said the diplomatic mission could not verify such information at this time. At the same time, an embassy official stressed that since the beginning of 2020, trade in wild animals and their use for food has been banned in China.

A joint WHO-China report published in March following the Wuhan mission in 2021 noted that the most likely scenario for COVID-19 to spread is bat disease from another animal that later infected people.

According to The Washington Post, to date, experts have not reached definitive conclusions about how exactly the virus entered the seafood market in Wuhan, where the outbreak of the coronavirus disease was first registered.

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