The coronavirus was circulating in Italy as soon as the end of November 2019, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lending weight to other studies that have suggested an earlier appearance of the disease in Europe.
Tests showed that a child from the Milan area contracted a severe acute coronavirus respiratory syndrome in early December 2019, about three months before the first Covid-19 cases were identified in the country, the report said. The symptoms were mistaken for a case of measles.
Analysis was carried out retroactively on samples from patients who subsequently tested negative for measles, including one for a 4-year-old boy, which showed a positive result for Covid, according to the report by researchers at Milan’s Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health.
The new findings, which confirm other studies, shift the timeline for the beginning of the outbreak to late autumn 2019 from late February, when the first cases on the continent were identified in the northern Italian town of Codogno.
A separate study published in June indicated that the virus was present in sewage systems in Milan and Turin as early as December.
Italy is among the countries to be hit hardest by the pandemic, with more than 60,000 deaths and 1.7 million cases since the initial outbreak.
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