Satellite footage of five hospitals in the Chinese city of Wuhan show dramatic spikes in vehicle traffic late last summer and early fall compared to the prior year, an indication that the coronavirus may have been spreading across the city months before it was reported to the World Health Organization, according to a Harvard Medical School study.
Researchers studying 350 commercial satellite images found nearly double the number of vehicles parked outside the health centers versus the same time in 2018, according to an ABC report on the study. Dr. John Brownstein, a Harvard medical professor who led the project, said the surge in traffic “coincided with” a spike in Chinese internet searches of “certain symptoms that would later be determined as closely associated with the novel coronavirus,” such as diarrhea and respiratory symptoms.
“Something was happening in October,” said Brownstein, the director of the medical center’s Computational Epidemiology Lab. “Clearly, there was some level of social disruption taking place well before what was previously identified as the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.”