What caused the pandemic?
The death toll is finally starting to drop in Italy, the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. But how did the outbreak begin?
Scientists believe the virus originated in infected animals at a seafood and wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it crossed the species barrier.
We still don’t know exactly how it began, but one possible scenario is that a bat left a trace of coronavirus in its droppings and a wild animal picked up the infection from the excrement, allowing it to circulate in wildlife and eventually be passed onto humans.
More than 70% of emerging infections in humans are estimated to have come from animals – particularly wild ones.
The virus is then thought to have spread among humans through droplets from the nose or mouth, or by people coming into contact with contaminated surfaces or skin.
As people travelled around the world, it was brought to new countries, and as it is a new strain of coronavirus there is not yet any vaccine against it.