The head of the WHO's investigation team looking into the origin of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan says the virus was circulating more widely within the city in December 2019 than previously thought.
"We have a much, much better understanding of what happened in December 2019. We have been able to demonstrate that there was substantial circulation of the virus in Wuhan in December 2019. We've been able to link genetic sequences of different patients across the city in December with their physical location in and outside the market across the time from early December to end of December.
Citing the team, CNN reported there were over a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan in December 2019, meaning the virus was already widespread before Chinese authorities reported to the WHO on December 31st, 2019.
While the team was presented by Chinese scientists with 174 cases in and around Wuhan in December 2019, the WHO experts believe the virus could have infected over 1-thousand people in the city that month.
The team added the Huanan Seafood Market is not the only source of spread throughout the city, explaining the first patient Chinese officials said the first infected patient they saw had no links with the market.
"There's not a clear candidate for intermediate hosts yet, but the work on the market and the traceback process that was done there does provide some leads for next steps in the studies. And I think those are as important parts of a quest of this as data that tell you the positive news. "
The WHO team said it hopes to return to Wuhan in the coming months to continue the probe, but no concrete dates have been confirmed.
The WHO team is expected to publish a detailed summary of its findings soon.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.