Coronavirus was in Italy by Dec, waste water study

Scientists in Italy have found traces of coronavirus in wastewater collected from Milan and Turin in December 2019.

According to a study conducted in may French scientists, one of the inhabitants of the country had been infected by COVID-19 27 Dec, nearly a month before France confirmed the first cases. An analysis that was released late on Thursday stated that the samples taken in Milan and Turin on December 18 showed the presence of the novel deadly virus. Italy's initially circumstance was in mid-February.

It provides to evidence from other countries that the virus may well have been circulating significantly previously than assumed.

Doctors at a hospital in France retested samples from patients who were hospitalised with pneumonia in December 2019, finding at least one man who tested positive.

ISS researchers analysed 40 samples of wastewater collected from October 2019 to February 2020, and compared them to 24 control samples from September 2018 through June 2019.

Samples from October and November came back negative, showing that the virus had not yet arrived, ISS water quality expert Giuseppina La Rosa said.

Italy's first known non-imported virus case was a patient in the town in the northern Lombardy region.

"This research may help to understand the beginning of the virus's circulation in Italy", the ISS said in a statement. The government then designated Codogno a so-called red zone and ordered it shuttered. The institute also cited a Spanish study that has identified the RNA of this virus in the sewage of Barcelona collected in mid-January, " approximately 40 days before the notification of the first indigenous case in Spain. Nine other towns in Lombardy and neighbouring Veneto followed and the entire country went into lockdown in early March.

The ISS stated the benefits verified the "strategic relevance" of sewage water as an early detection tool due to the fact it can signal the virus's existence just before instances are clinically verified.

However she said the research did not "automatically imply that the main transmission chains that led to the development of the epidemic in our country originated from these very first cases". Many countries are now using the technique.

Now, the institute hopes to start a pilot project next month to monitor wastewater at tourist resorts, later expanding it nationally.

"That COVID-19 could have been circulating in Italy is possible", explained Rowland Kao, a veterinary epidemiology and information science professor at Scotland's Edinburgh University.