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Health

Harvard Medical School study suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating naturally in Wuhan since August 2019

Madrid / August 2019. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may have been spreading in China since the late summer of last year, or even since August or early fall of 2019 naturally, it is suggested in research by Harvard Medical School, in United States.

The study is supported by indicators that, such as traffic to hospitals and internet searches, value digital sources for surveillance of emerging pathogens.

The results are based on internet searches for the various symptoms of covid-19 disease and satellite images of hospital parking lots in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first outbreak appears to have been recorded; Analysis of these parking lots has given scientists clues to citizens’ travel patterns to hospital centers.

In the article, published in a repository at Harvard University itself, the researchers show both an increase in traffic in hospital parking lots and in online searches for the symptoms of the disease, months before December 2019, when the start of the pandemic was documented

“Although we cannot confirm whether the increase in volume was directly related to the new virus, our evidence supports other recent work demonstrating that the emergency occurred before it was identified in the Wuhan seafood market.”

In this sense, they insist, there is “an upward trend” in traffic to hospital centers and in the volume of internet searches “from the end of summer and beginning of autumn 2019”.

Symptoms of “diarrhea” and “cough”

While searches for respiratory cough symptoms show seasonal fluctuations that coincide with annual flu seasons, diarrhea is a more specific symptom of covid-19 and only shows an association with the current epidemic, the authors recall in their writing.

However, the increase in both signals precedes the documented start of the covid-19 pandemic in December, “underscoring the value of new digital sources for surveillance of emerging pathogens,” the authors add.

To reach their conclusions, the team of scientists collected 111 Wuhan satellite images (multiple sites per image) from January 9, 2018 to April 30, 2020.

Between the period analyzed, there was a general upward trend of increased hospital occupancy; Specifically, as of August 2019, an increase in the occupation of parking lots was detected, culminating with a peak in December of that year.

Although hospitals have relatively high volume days, both in autumn and winter, between September and October, five of the six hospitals analyzed showed their highest number of occupations daily.

This also coincides with the high levels of queries in the Chinese search engine Baidu for the terms “diarrhea” and “cough”.

“In August, we identified a unique increase in diarrhea searches that were not seen in previous flu seasons or reflected in cough search data,” say the authors, who claim that while “surprising” this The finding is in line with the recent recognition that gastrointestinal symptoms are a unique feature of covid-19 and may be the main complaint of a significant proportion of patients.

The authors also point out that a large decrease in hospital occupancy volume and search query data is seen after the Wuhan health closure on January 23, 2019.

Already in the spring of this year, the volume of cars in the car parks begins to tend to rise again; At the end of May 2020 there is a small upswing in internet searches.

These findings also support the hypothesis that the virus emerged naturally in southern China, the authors conclude. (June 9, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)

(Automatic translation)

The related video news (June 9, 2020):


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Question 1
Principalmente el texto habla...  
A
de cuándo pudo haber comenzado a propagarse ese coronavirus en China.
B
del número de búsquedas realizadas por Internet realizadas este año sobre el nuevo coronavirus.
C
de cuáles son los principales síntomas del nuevo coronavirus.
Question 2
En el texto se dice que...  
A
un estudio corrobora que ese virus comenzó a propagarse de China a finales del año pasado.
B
ese estudio sugiere que ese virus pudo haber comenzado a propagarse en China en agosto del año pasado.
C
ese estudio descarta por completo que ese virus comenzara a propagarse en China a finales del verano pasado.
Question 3
Sobre la realización de ese estudio se dice que...    
A
los investigadores solo tuvieron en cuenta las imágenes obtenidas por satélite de los aparcamientos de los hospitales de China.
B
se tuvieron en cuenta tanto las búsquedas realizadas en Internet relacionadas con esa enfermedad como las imágenes de los aparcamientos de los hospitales chinos.
C
los investigadores solo tuvieron en cuenta las búsquedas realizadas por la gente sobre los síntomas de esa enfermedad.
Question 4
Según el texto...  
A
se incrementó el número de personas que fueron al hospital en Wuhan a principios del otoño.
B
los investigadores ponen en duda que la diarrea pueda ser un síntoma del COVID-19.
C
se desmiente que hubiera mucha gente en China realizando búsquedas por Internet sobre la diarrea y la tos.
Question 5
En el texto se dice que...  
A
se registró una mayor ocupación de los hospitales de Wuhan tanto en septiembre como en octubre.
B
esos científicos desmienten que ese virus se haya originado de forma natural.
C
este es el primer estudio que sugiere que el virus surgió en el mercado de Wuhan a finales de año.
Question 6
En el vídeo se dice que...  
A
ya no hay ningún caso grave de COVID-19 en China.
B
ya no se ha registrado ningún caso importado de COVID-19 en China.
C
solo se han registrado 100 casos de asintomáticos en China.
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