More coronaviruses looming large, warns China’s ‘bat woman’

April 26, 2020

New York: Even after the world finds a way to combat the virus responsible for COVID-19, it should prepare for more outbreaks caused by bat-borne coronaviruses, warns a top virologist from China.

“We must find them before they find us,” Shi Zhengli who is also known among her colleagues as “bat woman” for her virus-hunting expeditions in bat caves over the past 16 years, was quoted as saying in an article published in the June 2020 issue of Scientific American magazine.

What is worrying is that China is not the only “hot spot” from where such a future outbreak could originate, said the report, adding that other major emerging economies, such as India, Nigeria and Brazil, are also at high risk.

Researchers at EcoHealth Alliance, a New York City-based nonprofit research organisation found that human activities like cutting down forests and intensifying agriculture changing the landscapes of these places with dense populations could be linked to the emergence of new pathogens.

It is futile to blame animals for these outbreaks as according to researchers what is causing the problem is humans coming into contact with these animals.

Shi, who plans to lead a big project to sample viruses in bat caves in the future, is in pains to hear rumours emanating from the Internet and some sections of the media that the SARS-CoV-2 accidentally leaked from her lab in Wuhan.

After identifying the pathogen, now known as SARS-CoV-2, from mysterious samples that landed at her Wuhan Institute of Virology, an affiliate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, last December, Shi examined her own lab’s past records to check for any mishandling of experimental strains of viruses, especially during disposal.

The results showed that none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves, said the report in the Scientific American.Covid-19 cases mount to 26,917, with 826 deaths
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New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) The total number of Covid-19 cases in the country mounted to 26,917 on Sunday evening, the Union Health Ministry stated.

Of the total cases, 20,177 are active cases, 5,913 people have recovered, and 826 people have succumbed to the disease.

Maharashtra remained the worst hit state with a total number of cases rising to 7,628, followed by Gujarat which reported 3,071 cases and Delhi which has reported 2,625 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.

Besides the trio, other states which have jumped the 1,500 mark are Madhya Pradesh (2,096), Rajasthan (2,083), Tamil Nadu (1,821) and Uttar Pradesh (1,843).

Maharashtra has recorded 323 deaths, the highest number of casualties among all the states. The western state is followed by Gujarat at 133, Madhya Pradesh at 99 and Delhi at 54.

Among other major cities, Andhra Pradesh has reported 1,097 and 31 deaths, Bihar stood at 251 cases and two deaths, Haryana at 289 and three deaths, Jammu and Kashmir at 494 cases and six deaths, Karnataka at 501 and 18 deaths and Kerala was docked at 458 and four deaths.

States which have reported less than 10 cases are – Tripura, Mizoram, Puducherry, Manipur, Goa and Arunanchal Pradesh.

On the global front, the total number of cases has crossed 2.9 million mark and over two lakh people have died so far. IANS