Skin sample from Milan woman shows coronavirus infection weeks before Wuhan outbreak: media

2021-07-14 09:42:11 GMT2021-07-14 17:42:11(Beijing Time) Sina English

A World Health Organization-led team has found the novel coronavirus was circulating in China and elsewhere long before the outbreak at Wuhan's Huanan seafood market in December 2019 after studying the case of an Italian woman, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

The 25-year-old woman visited a Milan hospital complaining about a sore throat and skin lesions in November 2019, a month before COVID-19 would be identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

She left behind a skin sample smaller than a dime. Two tests conducted more than six months later yielded traces of the novel coronavirus, according to research published in January by the British Journal of Dermatology.

Scientists say further study of her case could help determine just how long the coronavirus was circulating before it was detected in Wuhan.

Yet the woman's identity is unknown, researchers say. Milan's Policlinico hospital and the University of Milan, which oversaw her case, said they don't have her details. Raffaele Gianotti, the dermatologist who treated her, died in March, days before the WHO-led team asked for more research regarding his patient, according to a report published in The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

The team has recommended searching for possible COVID-19 cases in other countries that predate the first confirmed Wuhan case.