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Skin sample from Milan woman shows Covid-19 infection weeks before Wuhan outbreak – study

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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.

File picture: Damian Dovarganes/AP

BEIJING – 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 has reported.

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.

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.

In the meantime, according to a recent WHO report, the Lambda variant has been found in 29 countries, writes Tara Hurst, Lecturer, Biomedical Science, Birmingham City University in The Conversation.

The report states: “Lambda has been associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries, with rising prevalence over time concurrent with increased Covid-19 incidence.”