Ministers fear that the coronavirus pandemic might have been caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory. Wuhan is home to the Institute of Virology, the most advanced laboratory of its type on the Chinese mainland.
The institute, based closed to the wildlife market, is supposed to be the most secure virology unit in the world. In 2018 Wuhan lab was ‘capable of conducting experiments with highly pathogenic microorganisms’ such as the Ebola virus.
But despite its reputation for high security, there have been unverified local reports that workers at the institute became infected after being sprayed by blood, and then carried the infection into the local population.
A second institute in the city, the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control – which is barely three miles from the market – is also believed to have carried out experiments on animals such as bats to examine the transmission of coronaviruses.