Morning News Brief Photograph:( Reuters )
Reports claimed Beijing had refused access to raw data on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, coronavirus investigators have discovered that signs of coronavirus outbreak were much wider in Wuhan in December 2019 than previously thought.
The development was revealed by lead investigator for the WHO mission to US news network CNN. Peter Ben Embarek told CNN that investigators are urgently seeking access to hundreds and thousands of blood samples from Wuhan even as China has so far prevented the samples to be tested.
Reports claimed Beijing had refused access to raw data on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been persistent concerns that the virus may have been spreading in China long before its first official emergence in mid-December. China had reported the first case of the virus to the WHO on December 31, 2019.
WHO's food safety specialist Embarek said that 174 cases of coronavirus in and around Wuhan in December 2019 were presented by Chinese scientists out of these, hundred were confirmed by laboratory tests and another 74 through the clinical diagnosis of the patient's symptoms with likely severe cases noticed by Chinese doctors early.
Embarek said it was possible that the larger number meant the disease could have hit an estimated 1,000-plus people in Wuhan in December, 2019.
The latest findings reportedly revealed that there were over a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan already in December, 2019.
A team of WHO experts had gone to China in January to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 and after two weeks in quarantine, they visited key sites including the Huanan Seafood market which was the same location where first known cluster of infections were identified.
Peter Ben Embarek had said that bats remain a likely source of the virus. He had also said that transmission via frozen food was a possibility that calls for further investigation.
However, experts have ruled out reports of lab leak leading to the virus outbreak. Scientists have pushed for more research about the early days of the outbreak in Wuhan.