Was virus already in Italy before outbreak?

Xinhua
Italian general practitioners remember seeing strange pneumonia cases as early as in November.
Xinhua

Italian general practitioners remember seeing strange pneumonia cases as early as in November, which could mean the virus was circulating in parts of Italy before doctors became aware of China’s COVID-19 outbreak, a US radio outlet reported, citing a paper on Italy’s coronavirus crisis.

The report published on Thursday by US media outlet National Public Radio cited Giuseppe Remuzzi, co-author of a recent paper in The Lancet about Italy’s epidemic.

According to the report, some question why Italy was caught off-guard when the virus outbreak was revealed on February 21. Remuzzi said he is hearing information about it from general practitioners.

“They remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November,” the report quoted Remuzzi as saying. “This means that the virus was circulating, at least in (the northern region of) Lombardy and before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”

Italy reported 6,557 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, raising the total to 53,578 since the pandemic first broke out, according to the latest data provided by the country’s Civil Protection Department.

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