China says COVID-19 may have come from overseas, not Wuhan

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KOLKATA (India) — Epidemiological analysis by public health specialists and virologists in China are connecting the novel coronavirus’ origin from overseas.

The latest flurry of asymptomatic and confirmed COVID-19 cases in China’s Tianjin municipality has been found to have links with cold-chain food imports, China’s Global Times reported.

This is one of the flurries of claims made by distinguished and high-ranking Chinese officials who believe the novel coronavirus did not emerge from Wuhan.

Eight people at a residential community in China’s Tianjin municipality jurisdiction tested positive for covid-19 between November 10 and 20.

Of the eight people, two of them were traced to have direct contact with cold chain imports, the epidemiological investigation found.

China has traced several outbreaks of Covid-19 in cold-chain imports in seafood at multiple instances in June and July and reportedly imposed stricter regulations in testing the imports before they’re sent to local markets for selling.

Preliminary reports from the onset of the pandemic suggest the novel coronavirus originated at a seafood market in Wuhan at China’s Hubei province.

China is now citing the recent epidemiological investigation and other instances of cold food-chain outbreaks of the virus to claim Covid-19 may have not originated in Wuhan after all.

“The possibility that the virus found in Wuhan could also have been brought from overseas through cold chains does exist,” Zhou Zijun, a professor at Peking University’s School of Public Health, told Global Times.

Several reports also echo the same sentiments, that the virus may not have after all ‘originated’ in a Wuhan seafood market.

Instead, some experts claim, Wuhan’s seafood market was the spot for a major superspreader event, that gradually became a vox populi for the virus’s origin.

Weeks ago, Wu Zunyou, the Chinese CDC’s present chief epidemiologist said the COVID-19 virus came to China via imported seafood products from other countries, South China Morning Post reported.

Another senior Chinese scientist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said, citing a study, that the virus did not originate in Wuhan, but was first traced from there, Daily Mail reported.

Zoonotic viruses

Viruses of zoonotic origin like the novel coronavirus theoretically jump from a host body to infect another animal, before finally entering the human system.

But for a virus to jump into humans or infect them, it will first need to be present on a host animal, from where the potential of a successful spread will begin.

Genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus found it had the most similarities with a coronavirus that inhabits horseshoe bats. From this, scientists tipped that the virus must have hopped on from the bats to other animals, which has infected humans.

A report from Livescience stated, animals tissue samples from the Wuhan Seafood market where the virus was originally thought to have originated, were tested, and no traces of the novel coronavirus was found.

“None of the animals tested positive. So since January, this has not actually been particularly conclusive. But this has developed into a narrative,” said Colin Carlson, a professor at Georgetown University who studies the spread of such zoonotic viruses, which transmit between animals and humans.

“I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel, as a researcher who studies zoonotic disease, that this market is a likely option,” he said.

Even experts at the Wuhan Institute of Virology claimed the virus may not have emerged from the seafood market, which was popularly picked up by media as soon as the spread began, Wall Street Journal reported.

Data is still not sufficient to trace the actual origin of the virus. But it is also a fact, zoonotic diseases like the novel coronavirus can easily spring into human populations when the safe threshold between wildlife and humanity is breached.

A June study found strains of the novel coronavirus was lurking in Italian sewage before the virus came into mainstream public purview in 2020, We The World reported.

The study results revealed that the virus might have been lurking in Italy’s northern side as genetic traces of SARS-CoVI-2 has been found in sewage samples collected.

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