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Coronavirus ‘originated in India’ in 2019 summer, say Chinese researchers.

The paper suggesting that the virus originated in India is yet to be peer-reviewed. Broad scientific consensus is that the virus originated in China.

According to the preprint of a paper by researchers at the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences titled, 'The Early Cryptic Transmission and Evolution of Sars-Cov-2 in Human Hosts,' Covid-19 existed on the Indian subcontinent before the Wuhan outbreak in December 2019. The preprint was posted on SSRN.Com, The Lancet's preprint platform, on Nov. 17, and it bases its findings on research into strains of the virus provided by 17 different countries, reports The Financial Express. Researchers used a phylogenetic analysis method, a technique where scientists study the mutations of the virus, to assess the origin of the coronavirus, however the paper has not been peer-reviewed yet.

The study rules out Wuhan as a site of origin of the coronavirus but nominates Bangladesh, India, the US, Greece, Australia, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, and Serbia as potential countries.

Various outlets of the state-run Chinese media have been carrying reports suggesting that imported food products from different countries, including a consignment of fish from India, were found to have traces of the COVID-19, alleging that the virus may have entered China through foreign routes. Asked whether that is China's official view, too, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing that even though China was the first to report coronavirus but that doesn't necessarily mean China is where the virus originated.

COVID-19 cases first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019 before turning into a global pandemic with the worldwide death toll crossing over 1.4 million.Many of the initial victims of the virus were stall owners, market employees, or regular visitors to this market, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. The environmental samples taken from the market in Dec. 2019 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, further suggesting that the market in Wuhan City was the source of this outbreak or played a role in the outbreak's initial amplification. The market was later closed on Jan. 1, 2020, and was disinfected. The virus could have been introduced into the human population from an animal source in the market, or an infected human could have introduced the virus to the market, and the virus may have then been amplified in the market environment, according to WHO.

WHO emergency expert Dr. Mike Ryan told the media that his organisation has had assurances from China that an international field trip to investigate the origins of the new coronavirus will be arranged as soon as possible. Ryan also reiterated the position that the Wuhan market, where the virus is reported to have originated, is "likely to have been a point of amplification" of virus transmission, but whether that was by a human, animal, or environmental spread is not yet known, the report quoted him saying. However, he did add that it would be “highly speculative” to argue that the disease did not emerge in China. “It is clear from a public health perspective that you start your investigations where the human cases first emerged.”

Prof Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, said that “What appears certain is that the first recorded cases of the disease were in China and it thus remains most likely that the virus originated in China.”

According to a Reuters report published on June 10, in a study published by Harvard Medical School on June 9, used satellite imagery of Wuhan parking lots to show an increase in hospital visits by the locals beginning as early as Aug. 2019, which was four months before the outbreak officially began. It also identified a surge in search-engine queries for “cough” and “diarrhea” in August. However, the authors of the study said that they were still investigating the viability of the data and conceded that there could be alternative explanations for the increases.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.

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