The World Health Organization team investigating coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, says its uncovered new information about its possible origins.
Peter Ben Embarek who led the team in its nearly month-long visit said the virus could have taken a very long and convoluted path also involving movements across borders.
"All the work that has been done on the virus and trying to identify its origin continue to point towards natural reservoir of this virus, and similar viruses, in bat population."
But he added it’s unlikely that the bats were in Wuhan.
He said they were also looking for Chinese blood samples that could indicate that the virus was circulating earlier than first thought.
The team of investigators did rule out the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab - which has been the subject of conspiracy theories.
"However, the findings suggest that the laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely, and to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population."
The team has also identified market vendors selling frozen animal products including farmed wild animals.
They plan to further investigate cold chain transmission
China has pushed the idea that the virus can be transmitted by frozen food and has repeatedly announced findings of coronavirus traces on imported food packaging.
Members of the team have sought to rein in expectations for the mission.
With one expert saying it would probably take years to fully understand the origins of COVID-19.