New Delhi: A Harvard Medical School Research recently found out that the novel coronavirus that spread all over the world like a wildfire, might have started spreading in China’s Wuhan city as early as August last year. Also Read - US Joins India in Clinical Trials For Ayurveda Formulations Against COVID-19

However, China was quick to dismiss the report saying it was “ridiculous”. Also Read - Coronavirus Pandemic May Have Set Back Growth of Women's Cricket by Two Years: Mithali Raj

The Harvard research team gathered data based on satellite images of hospital travel patterns, as well as, what people searched on the internet around that time. Also Read - Coronavirus: India Reports First Spike of Over 25,000; 26,506 New Cases in Last 24 Hours

The research team tracked satellite images from the parking lots of hospitals in Wuhan city, where the disease broke out in December 2019. It also looked for symptom-related queries, like cough or diarrhoea, on search engines.

“Increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan preceded the documented start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in December 2019,” the research stated, as quoted by Reuters.

It added that although it cannot be confirmed if the increased volume was directly related to the virus outbreak, the findings support other recent work showing that “emergence happened before identification at the Huanan Seafood market” in Wuhan city.

However, when asked to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying about the research, she said it was “incredibly ridiculous” that such conclusions came up based on “superficial observations such as traffic volume”.