Huanan seafood market may not be site of earliest COVID-19 outbreak: WHO-China team

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Aerial photo shows the Yangtze River bridge during the morning rush hour in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province, April 15, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Wuhan's Huanan seafood market may not have been the site of the earliest COVID-19 outbreak, said the WHO-China joint team studying the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Liang Wannian, a member of the team, said at a press conference on Tuesday that in retrospect, the first COVID-19 case in Wuhan had no relation to the Huanan seafood market.

"We can't say it was the starting point of the epidemic," he said.

The market drew considerable attention after an early cluster of cases was traced to people working in the market.

Peter Ben Embarek, a member of the WHO-China joint team, also said the exact role of the Huanan seafood market was unclear.

Embarek noted that while the market was probably a setting where the virus could have easily spread, this is "not the whole story."

"There was also spread among individuals that were not linked to the market," he said, adding that some cases were linked to other markets while some had no links to any markets whatsoever.

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