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Wuhan scientists 'had virus symptoms before first confirmed cases'

Wuhan scientists 'had virus symptoms before first confirmed cases'
Staff at Wuhan's virus research institute were experiencing coronavirus symptoms weeks before cases were reported by China, the US Government has claimed.
A 'fact sheet' released by the US State Department said several scientists inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became ill in late 2019.
That was several weeks before China confirmed it was treating cases of a novel coronavirus that would later become known as COVID-10.
The US document provided no evidence but supports earlier claims the laboratory was the source of the pandemic.
Researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province.The US State Department has claimed researchers there became ill weeks before China reported cases. (AP)
The Chinese Government has firmly rejected the US allegations.
Where the virus first emerged and how it transmitted to humans remains a mystery.
The initial cluster was linked to stall-holders at a wet market in Wuhan, but earlier cases have not been confirmed.
The claims by the outgoing Trump administration are the latest to challenge China over the origins of the virus, just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The US State Department said Chinese scientists conducted studies on "animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure."
Several researchers at WIV then became ill in the northern autumn 2019, the US Government said. But other details were given.
The wet markets in Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have spread from an animal to humans. (Getty)
Chinese authorities reported a coronavirus outbreak weeks later on December 31, 2019, some three weeks before the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus, January 22 2020.
A team of WHO experts - including Australian microbiologist and infectious diseases expert Professor Dominic Dwyer - has arrived in Wuhan as part of a global investigation into the pandemic origins.