WHO mission leader says it's 'possible' COVID cases circulated before December 2019

FILE PHOTO: Peter Ben Embarek, a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) arrives at the airport, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 10, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

GENEVA/ZURICH (Reuters) – It is “perfectly possible” COVID-19 cases were circulating in November or October 2019 around Wuhan, China, the leader of a World Health Organization mission said on Tuesday, potentially leading to the disease spreading abroad earlier than documented, so far.

The team is still working on finding the exact trace-back of the virus before Wuhan, said Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO official specialised in zoonotic diseases who led the four-week mission of international experts to China in January and February, during a virtual press conference.

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