Washington, Jun 9 : The COVID-19 outbreak in China may have occurred in August last year instead of December as per the satellite images of Wuhan hospitals and search results on the internet, a new research published on Harvard website points.
The study by the researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, notes "an upward trend in hospital traffic" in China’s Wuhan and Baidu search queries of "disease related terms" in the late summer and early fall of 2019. From 2018-2020 a "trend of increased hospital occupancy as measured by the parking lot volume proxy" has been in place, but saw a "steep increase" in August that peaked in December, the research say. As for search internet trends, they point to a "unique increase" in searches for diarrhea, which is a feature of COVID-19.
"We consider that SARS-CoV-2 may have already been circulating in the community prior to the identification of the Huanan Market cluster. This hypothesis is supported by emerging epidemiologic and phylogenetic evidence indicating that the virus emerged in southern China and may have already spread internationally, and adapted for efficient human transmission by the time it was detected in late December," the study says as quoted by news agency Sputnik. The novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in late December.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11. As of Monday, over 6.9 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed globally, including nearly 4,01,000 deaths, according to the WHO. (UNI)