WUHAN: A new research has suggested that the novel coronavirus that emerged in China last year may have been spreading in the country as early as August instead of December.
The research conducted at Harvard Medical School used high-resolution satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan where the disease emerged in late 2019 and collected data for symptom-related queries on search engines such as cough and diarrhea.
According to the research, increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan headed the documented start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in December 2019.
“While we cannot confirm if the increased volume was directly related to the new virus, our evidence supports other recent work showing that emergence happened before identification at the Huanan Seafood market,” stated the researchers.
The study also corroborates the hypothesis that the virus emerged naturally in southern China and was potentially already circulating at the time of the Wuhan cluster. It showed a steep increase in hospital parking lot occupancy in August 2019.
The research stated, “In August, we identify a unique increase in searches for diarrhea which was neither seen in previous flu seasons or mirrored in the cough search data.”
A coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. It affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization.
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