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Coronavirus arose in China between early October and mid-November in 2019, with the most likely date of origin being November 17, according to UK scientists.

Research led by the University of Kent suggests that the first Covid-19 case outside China occurred in Japan on January 3, 2020, while the first case in Europe occurred in Spain on January 12, 2020, and the first case in North America occurred in the US on January 16, 2020.

According to official data, Japan confirmed its first case on January 16, Spain on January 31 and the US on January 21.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, are based on a new modelling method, which was originally developed to date extinctions rather than the origins of a new pandemic.

Dr David Roberts, from Kent’s school of anthropology and conservation, who helped develop the technique, said: “This novel application within the field of epidemiology offers a new opportunity to understand the emergence and spread of diseases, as it only requires a small amount of data.”

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