Thailand denies coronavirus pandemic started at Chatuchak market

SENIOR Thai officials came out to deny a foreign media report that the global coronavirus pandemic may have spread from Chatuchak market before doing so from China’s Wuhan city pointing out that Thailand had for two decades now been regularly researching diseases transmitted by bats and cross species transmission, Thai Rath newspaper said this afternoon (Feb. 24).

Mr Chawatsan Namwat, acting head of the Disease Control and Emergency Health Hazards Division at the Department of Disease Control, said Thai researchers had collected samples from crowned bats and found that similar to other types of bats they hosted numerous viruses. It was detected that these bats had a virus with a genetic code that is upto 91.5 percent similar to the Covid-19 virus but this was not transmissible to humans.

The best prevention is to not hunt wild animals, he said, adding that it has not yet been proven which animal the coronavirus originated from.

Meanwhile Mr. Thanya Netithamakul, director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said a survey of animals traded at Chatuchak market was conducted on March 19, 2020 with samples of various animals, including dogs, cats and rabbits, and foreign animals such as marmosets, pygmy hedgehogs, meerkats and sugar gliders, were collected and tested and no coronavirus was found.

According to Coconuts Bangkok, Denmark’s Politiken published a Danish-language article on Monday questioning whether Chatuchak was indeed “the place that brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.” It cited Danish epidemiologist Thea Kolsen Fischer, who was on a recent WHO fact-finding mission to China that said Southeast Asia could be a source of the virus.

On Tuesday, Fischer said that she was not quoted correctly by the paper, saying that she only spoke of recent findings that horseshoe bats have been found to host viruses very similar to Sars-CoV-2.


Top: Lots of shoppers at Chatuchak market before the advent of the global coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Seanchicoine  (CC BY 2.0)

Home Page: A husky for sale at Chatuchak market. Photo: Aviva West(CC BY 2.0)



TNR staff
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