A study carried out by Harvard University found that the coronavirus might have hit the Chinese city of Wuhan as early as August 2019.
A report published by the Harvard Medical School analysed satellite images of hospital traffic in Wuhan, where the disease is said to have originated in December 2019, and the search engine trends related to the virus. They found an increase in traffic in hospitals and symptom searches in Wuhan well before December. The researchers looked at satellite imagery of parking lots of six hospitals in Wuhan, five of which showed their highest relative daily volume between September and October 2019. Data also shows a spike in search for words like 'cough' and 'diarrhea', symptoms of the coronavirus, between September and October. Associated Press also released an investigative report last week which suggested that China withheld vital information about the outbreak, and the coronavirus, and waited more than a week before publishing the genome of the coronavirus in January 2020.
Though these reports and studies suggest that the coronavirus could have emerged in Wuhan in August 2019, further research is needed to validate this claim.
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.