The Chinese food market at the centre of the deadly Sars-like virus outbreak has claimed they sold live koalas, snakes, rats and wolf pups to locals to eat.

The Huanan Seafood market in Wuhan in China is under investigation with officials believing the coronavirus originated from a wild animal that was sold at the venue.

So far the highly-contagious virus has killed 17 people and infected hundreds around Asia.

According to the South China Morning Post, the market's advertising board had live foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines and koalas.

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China has closed off two cities — Wuhan and Huanggang, with a combined population of more than 18.5 million people — in an effort to try to stop the spread of a deadly Coronavirus Video / CBS News

The sale of live animals has shocked a number of locals, with some taking to Chinese social media site Weibo to show their surprise.

"Just took a closer look at the viral wild animal menu - they even eat koalas", one wrote.

"There's nothing Chinese people won't eat".

Wild animals ready to be sold at The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in China.
Wild animals ready to be sold at The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in China.

According to the list, there are 112 live animals and animal products available at the market.

Coronavirus represents a wide variety of viruses present in animals that can in certain circumstances jump to humans.

The Chinese government has quarantined the city where the deadly coronavirus originated and plans to shut down the airport and public transport, according to reports on the country's social media networks.

A list of prices for one of the businesses operating at the market showed
A list of prices for one of the businesses operating at the market showed "live tree bears" which is the Chinese name for "koala".

More than 500 people have been infected, but there are fears that figure could be as high as 10,000, with warnings the new strain is "as deadly as Spanish flu" which killed 50 million people.

Professor Neil Ferguson, an expert in mathematical biology at Imperial College London, said the death rate was "roughly the same as for The Spanish flu epidemic, at around one in 50".

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Several countries increased border health checks to guard against the disease's spread, including Australia, the US, the UK and Russia.