The new virus, which emerged at a live animal market in central China’s Wuhan city late last year, is believed to have originated in bats, but researchers have suggested there could have been an ‘intermediate host’ in the transmission to humans.

After testing more than 1,000 samples from wild animals, scientists from the university found the genome sequences of viruses found on pangolins to be 99 percent identical to those on coronavirus patients, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The full study has not been released and was only trailed in a university statement, prompting scepticism from UK scientists.