China's health authorities Friday confirmed that the coronavirus' strain identified at the Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing came from Europe after it was likely imported in frozen foods.
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Although the results are still preliminary, experts have found that the virus was circulating in the city's main wholesale market long before it was detected.
"If it had arrived in the city recently, so many positive samples could not have been detected," the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention assistant director Zhang Yong said.
The new outbreak is believed to have started in April, instead of late May or early June, when it was detected.
"After the Xinfadi's outbreak, most of the detected cases show very mild symptoms," China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Gao Fu commented.
Regarding the arrival of the virus in Beijing, experts suggested that the cold environment during the travel from Europe to China facilitated its survival.
Once in the Xinfadi market, it is believed that the virus strain was kept in dark, damp rooms, which were not properly disinfected.
After the outbreak, China suspended salmon imports from Europe. But specialists believe it is unlikely that the fish carried the coronavirus.
On June 18, Beijing reported another 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 183 in the last week.