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Scientists identify new global coronavirus ‘hotspots’

A new research by scientists from three different universities from the US, Italy and New Zealand revealed that most of the “hotspots” for possible new coronavirus strains are located in China.

Researchers from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, the Polytechnic University of Milan and Massey University of New Zealand jointly conducted a study on the “hotspots favorable for bats that carry coronaviruses and where conditions are ripe for the diseases to jump from bats to humans”.

Global land-use changes, including forest fragmentation, agricultural expansion and concentrated livestock production, were also included in the study.

“Most of the current hotspots are clustered in China, where a growing demand for meat products has driven the expansion of large-scale, industrial livestock farming,” the researches said in their analysis released Tuesday.

They also found that parts of Japan, the north Philippines and south of Shanghai are at risk of becoming hot spots with further forest fragmentation, while parts of Indochina and Thailand may transition into hot spots with increases in livestock production.

Paolo D’Odorico, a professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley and co-author of the study, stated that land-use changes should be carefully evaluated in terms of both the environment and human health, adding: “Because they can increase our exposure to zoonotic disease.”

“Every formal land-use change should be evaluated not only for the environmental and social impacts on resources such as carbon stocks, microclimate and water availability, but also for the potential chain reactions that could impact human health,” he said.

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