Chennai: A research, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, has suggested that coronavirus may have existed in a latent phase in China’s Wuhan since October 2018.
“An unidentified animal or animal parts contaminated by a virus initially originating from bats was brought into contact with humans in October-November 2019, starting a latent infection,” the scientists wrote in the study.
The researchers from the University of Barcelona in Spain, described a combination of biological and social factors which may have led to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, the first epicentre of the pandemic.
One of the factors, the researchers including Jordi Serra-Cobo and Marc Lopez believe, is the co-occurrence of three major celebrations in China over a short time for which the demand of food and natural products was exceptionally high.
The study noted that the resulting movement and storage of large amounts of food, including living animals, in December 2019, also played an important role in the rise of the pandemic.
A very high attendance of markets in December 2019 accelerated the transmission of the virus, they said, followed by elevated levels of human mobility for the holidays in January 2020.
A study by Harvard in early June postulated it could have spread as early as August 2019. Using satellite images, the study pointed to a surge in traffic outside Wuhan hospitals from August 2019 suggesting that the coronavirus hit the area far earlier than reported.
However, China had dubbed the study ridiculous and based on superficial information.
A white paper on coronavirus released by China had said the virus was first noticed on 17 December, and Chinese virologists confirmed human-to-human transmission on 19 January, prompting authorities to impose lockdown of Wuhan from 23 January.