ROME (Reuters) – The first COVID-19 infections in Italy date back to January, according to a scientific study presented on Friday, shedding new light on the origins of the outbreak in one of the world’s worst-affected countries.
Stefano Merler, of the Bruno Kessler Foundation, told a news conference with Italy’s top health authorities that his institute had looked at the first known cases and drawn clear conclusions from the subsequent pace of contagion.
“We realized that there were a lot of infected people in Lombardy well before Feb. 20, which means the epidemic had started much earlier,” he said.
Italy was the first major western country to face the viral disease, which originated in China late last year and has spread around the world. Italian authorities have recorded some 190,000 confirmed cases and 25,500 deaths.
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