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A recent study on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has found that based on a study of genomes of over 7,500 viruses from infected patients, the virus had, in fact, been spreading quickly across the world after originating from Wuhan, China between October and December 2019.
The research team, co-led by Francois Balloux, says in a study published in the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution that global genetic diversity of the virus causing COVID-19 was found in all of the hardest-hit countries, suggesting that the virus was already circulating around the world earlier on than initially believed. He also added that not enough research is available to suggest that the virus is growing more or less “lethal and contagious.”
This is further supported by a French study published earlier this week, which found that there was a case of COVID-19 in France as early as December 27 – nearly a month before confirmed first cases were ever announced by French authorities. These findings were also labeled as “not surprising” by the World Health Organization. The body has urged countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases.
This comes amid mounting criticism against China, with countries such as the United States, Germany and Australia launching inquiries into China’s initial handling of the outbreak. “China could have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. They had a choice. But instead China covered up the outbreak in Wuhan,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a recent news conference.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, however, responded, stating “The huge drama of blame-shifting in the United States has already been heavily spoiled, and continuing the drama is meaningless,” Hua says: “I advise those people in the United States absolutely not to become enthralled by their own act.”