WHO mission leader says it's 'possible' COVID cases circulated before December 2019

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GENEVA/ZURICH (Reuters) - It is "perfectly possible" COVID-19 cases were circulating in November or October 2019 around Wuhan, China, the leader of a World Health Organization mission said on Tuesday, potentially leading to the disease spreading abroad earlier than documented, so far.

The team is still working on finding the exact trace-back of the virus before Wuhan, said Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO official specialised in zoonotic diseases who led the four-week mission of international experts to China in January and February, during a virtual press conference.

(Reporting by John Miller, Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge)