COVID virus could have been circulating elsewhere before Wuhan discovery - Chinese expert

FILE PHOTO: Liang Wannian of China's National Health Commision attends a news conference of the World Health Organisation (WHO) - China Joint Mission on Covid-19 - about its investigation of the coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, China, February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

WUHAN, China (Reuters) - The virus that causes COVID-19 could have been circulating in other regions before it was identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, a top expert at China’s health authority said on Tuesday.

Liang Wannian, an expert with China’s Health Commission, also told a press briefing at the end of a nearly one-month visit to Wuhan by a World Health Organization-led team that there had been no substantial spread of the virus in the city before the late 2019 outbreak.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Wuhan and David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Gareth Jones