Coronavirus update: ‘Even worse’ pandemic could hit, warns London Zoo

Many deadly diseases begin in animals, such as COVID-19 and ebola, before moving on to humans. Experts believe up to 75 percent of new human diseases originate in animals, and the ZSL, which runs the London Zoo, has urged for more research into zoonotic diseases to be urgently conducted in order to present a worse outbreak than we are currently experiencing.

Dominic Jermey, director general of ZSL, warned: “No-one knows how many infections circulate in wildlife populations or under what circumstances they could create the next human pandemic.

“But if we know the risk factors for zoonotic virus spill-over, we can put in place safety measures to stop it happening in the first place without adversely affecting wild animals in which the viruses occur naturally.

“These links between wildlife and human health are increasingly recognised but still very poorly understood.

“Often public health research, practice and the implementation of policy happens without consideration of how natural systems work, and the pathways through which people’s health is affected by wildlife’s.”

COVID-19 has now infected more than 156,000 people worldwide, resulting in more than 5,800 deaths.

The disease has forced countries into lockdown, with travel to and from many countries now limited.

In the UK, all people in Britain aged over 70 are soon expected to be instructed to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months.

Other measures being planned included the forced requisitioning of hotels, private hospitals and other buildings as temporary hospitals.

Pubs, restaurants and bars could also be forced to close.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also ordered the NHS to buy thousands of private beds as the death rate hit 22.

The Government Chief Medical Adviser said all patients were from “at-risk” groups.

The number of UK confirmed cases has reached 1,140 out of 37,746 people tested.

Of the latest deaths, eight were aged over 80 and all but one had underlying conditions.

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said: “I understand this increase in the number of deaths linked to COVID-19 will be a cause for concern for many.

“The public should know every measure we are taking is seeking to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.”

If you are experiencing a new, continuous cough and/or a fever, the current advice is to self-isolate for at least seven days.

All hospital patients with flu-like symptoms are currently being tested.

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