China calls Harvard Medical School research on spread of virus in August 'incredibly ridiculous'

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jun 09, 2020, 03:41 PM(IST)

This photo taken on March 16, 2020 shows community volunteers distributing foods ordered by residents in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province. China reported on March 17 just one new domestic coronavirus infection but found 20 more cases imported from abroad, threatening to spoil its progress against the disease. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the research at a daily press briefing on Tuesday, dismissed the findings.

China dismissed Harvard Medical School research which stated that novel coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as August.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, asked about the research at a daily press briefing on Tuesday, dismissed the findings.

Also read: Researchers posit coronavirus transmission in Wuhan began in autumn of 2019 by using satellite images

"I think it is ridiculous, incredibly ridiculous, to come up with this conclusion based on superficial observations such as traffic volume," she said.

The research used satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan - where the disease was first identified in late 2019 - and data for symptom-related queries on search engines for things such as "cough" and "diarrhoea".

"Increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan preceded the documented start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in December 2019," according to the research.

In Pics: What we know about new coronavirus outbreak in Chinese city of Wuhan

The analysts used images from October 2018 and counted 171 cars in Tianyou Hospital, one of the largest in Wuhan. However, a year later, there were 285 vehicles parked in the same area, marking an increase of 67%. They also found that there was a 90% influx in traffic at other hospitals in the city.

Additionally, China’s search engine Baidu witnessed a lot of search logs regarding infectious diseases.

Coronavirus has infected over 7 million people globally, as per data from the Johns Hopkins University. Currently, 7,113,366 people have had the virus, while 406,413 people have lost their lives to the pandemic, which went global six months ago.

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