The World Health Organization (WHO) has retested samples of a study that suggested the coronavirus may have been circulating in Italy since autumn 2019, before it was identified in Wuhan, China.
Chinese observers said that the move has implied that international experts have started to track down the origin of COVID-19 outside China.
The tracing work may move to cover more countries that reported early evidence, including the US.
A WHO spokesman said that they have collaborated with partner laboratories for further testing.
“WHO is in contact with the researchers that had published the original paper. A collaboration with partner laboratories has been set up for further testing,” a spokesman said.
The spokesman added that other samples which had found earlier indications of the virus had also been tested.
COVID-19 was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.
However, a study by Italian researchers found antibodies linked to the virus from blood samples taken in cancer patients months earlier.
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