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Bat faeces, linked to coronavirus outbreak in humans, available on Amazon and delivered to the UK

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 03/05/2020 Robert Mendick, Tom Morgan
a store front at day: The Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where a number of people related to the market fell ill with a virus, sits closed in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday as governments strove to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which threatens to grow during the Lunar New Year travel rush - AP © AP The Wuhan Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, where a number of people related to the market fell ill with a virus, sits closed in Wuhan, China, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Heightened precautions were being taken in China and elsewhere Tuesday as governments strove to control the outbreak of the coronavirus, which threatens to grow during the Lunar New Year travel rush - AP

Bat faeces, which is feared to be linked to Covid-19 infections in China, was being sold in packets as alternative medicine by one UK retailer on Amazon as recently as last week.

The supplier immediately promised it had disposed of its remaining stock after the Telegraph learned of a packet of droppings being ordered and delivered to an address in North London.

While the source of the first coronavirus victim remains a matter of debate, some scientists believe it may have originated in bats in China before passing to humans, potentially being transferred through another animal.

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There are mixed reports over the use of bat guano in Chinese medicine, but one specialist believes users administer it in the hope that it will boost their eyesight. One report suggests it is administered by being crushed up and rubbed in the eye.

Rich in chemicals such as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, it is more regularly used across Asia for fruit farming, however. When confronted by the Telegraph over the sale of a 100g packet of faeces, the supplier, Bob Sun, promised the company was going to immediately destroy all stock.  The product listed as bat faeces and the Chinese name Ye Ming Sha was being sold for £17.97. It came in a sealed silver pouch and was delivered by post rather than courier. The Telegraph chose not to open up the package.

"We were not aware this was listed," he said, of the advert on Amazon. "Our staff member was new and was not aware this was a problem. We have removed the whole listing and destroyed all the product. We got it a long time ago from a supplier in the UK." The business is based in Northamptonshire. The Telegraph has chosen not to identify the company which operates from a housing estate.

A spokesman for Amazon, meanwhile, said the website requires all products offered in their store to comply with applicable laws and regulations, and that the website "proactively monitors multiple sources for safety notifications, including from regulatory agencies and healthcare organisations".

In pictures: Coronavirus outbreak (Photos)

The Covid outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, late last year, has been repeatedly linked to bats. Analysis of the first 41 Covid-19 patients in medical journal the Lancet found that 27 of them had direct exposure to the Huanan seafood market, in Wuhan. But the same analysis found that the first known case of the illness did not.

Professor Stephen Turner, head of the department of microbiology at Melbourne’s Monash University, said this week that it is most likely but inconclusive that the virus originated in bats.

Matthew Henderson, director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society and a former British diplomat based in China, also told the Telegraph: "Even those same experts have been photographed handling bats and bat droppings with utter disregard for biosecurity, and have even boasting about getting covered in bat urine or sprayed with bat blood.

"Even if viruses and bacteria are killed by drying the bat dung; at some point in the production of this so-called ‘medicine’, humans will have been exposed to infection while scooping wet droppings in humid  bat caves, where Chinese research has proved that many different strains of coronavirus are continually mutating and combining."

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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