Beijing denies coronavirus broke out in August

China has rejected claims that the new coronavirus started spreading in the country much earlier than thought.

It comes after the U.S. based Harvard Medical School released a report claiming the virus might have spread in China as early as last August.

Months before it was first identified at a Wuhan seafood market in December.

Researchers used satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan, and data for symptom-related queries on search engines for things such as “cough” and “diarrhoea”.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

"I think it is ridiculous to come to this kind of conclusion based on superficial observations, such as traffic volumes. It is incredibly ridiculous."

The report said researchers couldn't confirm if the increased volume of hospital traffic was directly linked to the new virus,

But it did say their evidence supports 'other recent work' showing the emergence happened before it was identified at the seafood market.

Harvard scientists said their findings showed a sharp rise in hospital car park occupancy in August 2019,

And a 'unique increase' in searches for diarrhoea which was not seen in past flu seasons.