Beijing: Chinese researchers have claimed that they have found a new batch of coronavirus in bats, media reports said.
According to the researchers, their discoveries in a single, small region of Yunnan province, southwestern China show just how many coronaviruses there are in bats and how many have the potential to spread to people, CNN reported.
Weifeng Shi of the University of Shandong and colleagues collected samples from small, forest-dwelling bats between May, 2019 and November, 2020. They tested urine and feces as well as taking swabs from the bats' mouths, the American news channel reported.
"In total, we assembled 24 novel coronavirus genomes from different bat species, including four SARS-CoV-2 like coronaviruses," the researchers wrote in a report published in the journal Cell as quoted by CNN.
"Together with the SARS-CoV-2 related virus collected from Thailand in June 2020, these results clearly demonstrate that viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 continue to circulate in bat populations, and in some regions might occur at a relatively high frequency," they wrote.
"Bats are well known reservoir hosts for a variety of viruses that cause severe diseases in humans and have been associated with the spillovers of Hendra virus, Marburg virus, Ebola virus and, most notably, coronaviruses. Aside from bats and humans, coronaviruses can infect a wide range of domestic and wild animals, including pigs, cattle, mice, cats, dogs, chickens, deer and hedgehogs," they wrote.
"Our study highlights the remarkable diversity of bat coronaviruses at the local scale, including close relatives of both SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV," they wrote.
The at samples they sampled are found in Southeast Asia region.
The world is currently hit by COVID-19 pandemic.