Press Association 2020
Researchers have hiked the Thai countryside catching bats in their burrows to trace the murky origins of the coronavirus.
Initial research has already shown that bats are the source of the virus, which has infected more than 20.5 million people and killed over 748,000 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The closest match to the coronavirus was found in horseshoe bats in Yunnan, southern China.
Thailand has 19 species of horseshoe bats, but researchers said they haven't been tested for the new coronavirus yet.
Thai researchers hiked up a hill in Sai Yok National Park in western Kanchanaburi Province to set up nets that could be used to catch around 200 bats from three different caves.
The Thai Red Cross Health Research Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases team took saliva, blood and stool samples from the bats before releasing them.
They worked all night into the next day, taking samples not only from horseshoe bats but also from other bat species that they had caught to better understand the pathogens the animals transmitted.
The team was led by Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, the center's deputy director, who has studied bats and related diseases for more than 20 years.
She was part of the group that helped Thailand confirm the first Covid-19 case outside of China in January and believes the team is likely to find the same virus in these bats.
"The pandemic is limitless," she said. “The disease can travel with bats. It could go anywhere. "