Rome : Now a study says Coronavirus might have been present in Italy since Sept 2019, predating its outbreak in China.
The virus might have been around in Italy, three months before it first emerged in China's Wuhan in December 2019, and five months before first case was reported in Italy on February 21, 2020, according to a report by Xinhua news agency.
A study by the Milan-based National Cancer Institute (INT) , released on Sunday, showed 11.6 per cent of the 959 healthy volunteers participated in a lung cancer screening trial between September 2019 to March 2020 had developed Covid-19 antibodies well before February.
Giovanni Apolone, a co-author of the study, said that four cases from the study dated to the first week in October last year, meaning those people had been infected in September.
The northern region of Lombardy, whose capital is Milan where the pandemic first emerged in late February, had previously reported an unusually high number of cases of severe flu and pneumonia in the last quarter of 2019. It means Covid-19 may have circulated earlier than previously thought.
As of Monday, Italy's overall coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 1,178,529 and 45,229, respectively.
IANS report with edits