In Italy, a child was ill with COVID-19 at the end of November 2019 — long before the start of the local outbreak

The new type of coronavirus was detected in a nasopharyngeal swab taken in early December 2019 in Milan from a four-year-old child. This was reported on Wednesday by the ANSA Agency, citing a study published by the State University of Milan. The official date of the beginning of the epidemic in the country is February 21, 2020.

The boy developed the first symptoms — cough and runny nose-on November 21, 2019. At the end of the same month, he was taken to the emergency department, and a few days later, the child developed skin rashes, which doctors linked to measles, for which testing was conducted. At that time, no one in Italy could suspect the disease caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the outbreak of which in Wuhan was officially notified by the Chinese authorities on December 31, 2019. A small patient was diagnosed with measles. The researchers later re-analyzed the test sample, which resulted in the coronavirus’s detection, the Agency points out.

As explained by the authors of the study, they decided to once again analyze the cases of measles and rubella in the period from September 2019 to February 2020. There is an assumption that in children, the virus can cause Kawasaki syndrome, which is expressed in the defeat of medium and small arteries, manifested in redness of the skin. So far, several cases of this disease have been reported in young children, including newborns who have had COVID-19. Doctors in several Northern Italian cities during the first wave of the pandemic spoke of an increase in the number of these cases, linking it to the spread of coronavirus. However, this syndrome is so rare that we talked about several dozen cases that needed a more detailed study in any case.

It is not the first time that the coronavirus was present in Italy at the end of last year, long before the local outbreak began. Earlier, it was reported about the detection of antibodies to coronavirus in samples taken in September last year from participants in a study related to cancer study. The coronavirus was in Milan’s sewage in mid-December 2019, as subsequent analysis of samples taken during that period showed.

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