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Italian scientists investigate possible earlier emergence of coronavirus

MILAN Italian researchers are looking for whether a greater than usual number of instances of severe pneumonia and flu within Lombardy within the last quarter regarding 2019 can be a signal that this new coronavirus might have distribute beyond China earlier than formerly thought.

Adriano Decarli, an epidemiologist and even medical stats professor at the University involving Milan, stated there ended up a “significant” increase in the number of people hospitalized for pneumonia and flu in the areas of Milan and Lodi between October and December last year.

He told Reuters he could not give exact figures but “hundreds” more persons than usual had been taken to medical center in the last 3 months of 2019 in those people areas – two of Lombardy’s worst struck cities – with pneumonia and flu-like symptoms, and many of those got died.

Decarli is looking at the hospital information and other clinical details of individuals cases, like people who later on died in your house, to try to recognize whether the fresh coronavirus plague had currently spread to be able to Italy previously.

“We want to know if the virus was already here in Italy at the end of 2019, and – if yes – why it remained undetected for a relatively long period so that we could have a clearer picture in case we have to face a second wave of the epidemic, ” he / she said.

The World Health Organization has said the new coronavirus together with COVID-19, typically the respiratory condition it reasons, were unknown before the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, in central China, in December.

Decarli mentioned once his or her research seemed to be concluded, regional health specialists might plan to request authorisation to exhume bodies of folks with suspect symptoms.

Other experts toss doubt for the hypothesis that the new virus could have been going around in Europe before the finish of 2019.

“I think it extremely unlikely that the virus was present in Europe before January, ” stated Paul Hunter, a teacher in medication at Britain’s University involving East Anglia who has already been tracking the evolving outbreak.

Hunter mentioned that unless Italian scientists get positive results coming from samples obtained and saved at that time, then a suggestion must not be given credence.

He added in that, granted what we learn about how contagious the virus is definitely, and the relation of affected individuals showing not any symptoms weighed against those that unwell, “it is inconceivable that we would not have had a pretty major epidemic in Europe much earlier if these cases had in fact been COVID-19”.

HIGHEST DEATH TOLL

Italy, which contains the highest quantity of COVID-19 fatalities in the world, documented its first case involving infection on Feb. 21 years old, though quite a few scientists imagine the virus began circulating in the land at least per month earlier.

“The virus was already here in the second half of January, ” claimed Massimo Galli, head from the infectious disorder unit at Milan’s Sacco hospital along with a professor within the department involving biomedical and clinical sciences at the University of Milan.

He said, however , that this probability on the virus spread out in Italy before January was “very low”.

Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research, in Milan, said some family doctors in Lombardy had reported unusual cases of pneumonia late last year that now looked potentially suspicious.

He said among those were several cases of bilateral pneumonia – which means both lungs are affected – in the areas of Gera D’Adda and Crema in late November and December, with high fever, cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing.

“None of such cases have already been documented since COVID-19 because there was no facts yet of the existence connected with COVID-19, ” he said.

Remuzzi said that if evidence of COVID-19 cases in Italy as far back as November was confirmed, this may signal that the virus can go undetected for months.

He said some reports in scientific journals had also led other scientists to question whether the virus may have emerged in China as early as October.