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The long sought after coronavirus patient zero may have been infected by a bat while working in the Wuhan lab, a WHO chief has admitted in a bombshell statement.

Dr Peter Ben Embarek has made the claim despite initially dismissing the lab leak theory as extremely unlikely after the initial probe.

The chief told the Danish television channel TV2 that that the infection could have happened while collecting bats in connection with the research that took place in Wuhan.

"An employee who was infected in the field by taking samples falls under one of the probable hypotheses," said Dr Ben Embarek.

"This is where the virus jumps directly from a bat to a human. In that case, it would then be a laboratory worker instead of a random villager or other person who has regular contact with bats.

"So it is actually in the probable category."

He however did admit the team found no direct evidence of this – but China have had multiple accusations of covering up the early days of the pandemic.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology is located close from the first known cases at a seafood market in the city of Wuhan.

It specialises in studying bat-based coronaviruses similar to Covid and was found to be holding the virus's 'genetic cousin'.

In March, the WHO released a report in collaboration with Chinese scientists which claimed the coronavirus likely emerged in bats and spread to another animal before it came over to humans.

It also spoke down the rejected the speculative theory that the virus leaked from a lab in China and described the scenario as "extremely unlikely."

Mr Embarek previously said: “This is only the start.

“We've only scratched the surface of these very complex set of studies that need to be conducted."

Mr Embarek also claimed it was difficult for the WHO team to discuss the laboratory theory with China at all.

He said: “Until 48 hours before we finished the whole mission, we still had no agreement that we would talk about the laboratory part of the report, so it was right up to the end that it was discussed whether it should be included or not.”

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