Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh said a study published before a team of WHO experts ended quarantine on Jan. 28 confirmed the presence of a close relative of the New Coronavirus in Cambodia since 2010, the French newspaper Echo reported on Jan. 28.
The report by the Pasteur Institute researchers in Phnom Penh was published Tuesday in the Biology Papers Archive, a repository of pre-printed papers.
The report is in fact the result of an analysis of bat samples that have been stored in a laboratory freezer in Cambodia since 2010.
After starting to analyze frozen samples from a specific species of bat (the horseshoe bat) for more than two months, the researchers concluded that it was 92.6% similar to the new coronavirus.
The researchers apparently did not conclude from this that the new coronavirus came from Cambodia, one of the countries least affected by it, with fewer than 30,000 confirmed cases and only 462 deaths.
However, in the opinion of the Pasteur Institute researchers, the data they published suggest that “the variety of viruses associated with the new coronavirus are located in a wider geographical area than has been thought to date.”
The authors of the report suggest that this may be because “samples from various regions of Southeast Asia have not been adequately studied, especially for the Greater Mekong Subregion.
This broad region includes Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, in addition to Yunnan.