The Chinese province that was the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak made significant purchases of equipment used to test for infectious diseases months before Beijing notified international authorities of the emergence of a new virus, according to research by a cybersecurity company.

The province’s purchase of PCR testing equipment, which allows scientists to amplify DNA samples to test for infectious disease or other genetic material, shot upward in 2019, with most of the increase coming in the second half of the year, the Australian-U.S. firm Internet 2.0 found.

Hubei province is home to Wuhan, the large Chinese city where the first known cases of COVID-19 emerged. The World Health Organization reported that its China Country Office was informed on Dec. 31, 2019, that cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause had been detected in the city.