The seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan may not be the only source of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, according to an expert.

Huang Chaolin, vice director of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, revealed in a recent interview with business magazine Caixin that there might be multiple places where the virus was first transmitted to humans, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital is one of the city’s designated hospitals to admit patients infected with the new virus.

Huang and his team have recently published a paper in the Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal, about some early findings on the clinical data of the first 41 novel coronavirus cases.

People queue up waiting to purchase face masks outside a shop in Hong Kong. A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 6 000 people on the mainland and more than a dozen other countries. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP

The first patient, who was admitted to Huang’s hospital on December 1, 2019, had no direct exposure to Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which was previously considered as the source of the epidemic, and his family had no fever or respiratory symptoms, according to the paper.

Among the following three patients who were admitted on December 10, two had no exposure to the market.

In total, only 27 of the 41 cases had exposure to the marketplace, said the paper.

“Judging from the whole situation, the seafood market may not be the only source. The origin of the novel coronavirus might be multi-source,” Huang said.

But no clues about other sources have been discovered.

Workers in protective suits monitor a screen showing the thermal scan to check temperatures of passengers arriving at the Nanjing Railway Station, following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, in Nanjing

The Huanan seafood market is located in the downtown area of the city’s Jianghan district.

Besides seafood, poultry and game meat were also sold in the market before it was shut down on January 1.

Experts of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention have previously isolated the novel coronavirus successfully in the environmental samples collected from the market.

Thirty-three of 585 samples from the market were found to contain the nucleic acid of the virus.

People queue up waiting to purchase face masks outside a shop in Hong Kong. A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 6 000 people on the mainland and more than a dozen other countries. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP

As of Wednesday, the toll due to the novel coronavirus increased to 132, with 5,974 confirmed cases.

-IANSĀ