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Coronavirus

Italian Study Finds That COVID-19 May Have Been Spreading in Late Fall of 2019

December 10, 2020

NEW YORK — A study out of Italy is seen as added evidence that COVID-19 virus may have been spreading in late fall of 2019, before an outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China.

Researchers identified the new coronavirus infection in a specimen taken in early December from a 4-year-old boy who lived near Milan. The boy first developed a cough and other symptoms in November, months before COVID cases were identified in Italy.

In the study, the researchers went back and looked at back-of-the-throat swab specimens that had been collected from 39 patients between September and February. One from the boy tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The researchers noted that the Italian child developed cold and flu-like symptoms in November and then a measles-like rash in early December. But they don’t detail where the child had been or who had been around.

Scientists at the University of Milan led the study and the medical journal Emerging Infectious Diseases this week posted it online. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes the journal, but it is editorially independent of the agency.

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