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Evidence for Limited Early Spread of COVID-19 Within the United States, January–February 2020 – CDC

From January 21 through February 23, 2020, public health agencies detected 14 U.S. cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), all related to travel from China (1,2). The first nontravel–related U.S. case was confirmed on February 26 in a California resident who had become ill on February 13 (3). Two days later, on February 28, a second nontravel–related case was confirmed in the state of Washington (4,5). Examination of four lines of evidence provides insight into the timing of introduction and early transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, into the United States before the detection of these two cases. First, syndromic surveillance based on emergency department records from counties affected early by the pandemic did not show an increase in visits for COVID-19–like illness before February 28. Second, retrospective SARS-CoV-2 testing of approximately 11,000 respiratory specimens from several U.S. locations beginning January 1 identified no positive results before February 20. Third, analysis of viral RNA sequences from early cases suggested that a single lineage of virus imported directly or indirectly from China began circulating in the United States between January 18 and February 9, followed by several SARS-CoV-2 importations from Europe. Finally, the occurrence of three cases, one in a California resident who died on February 6, a second in another resident of the same county who died February 17, and a third in an unidentified passenger or crew member aboard a Pacific cruise ship that left San Francisco on February 11, confirms cryptic circulation of the virus by early February. These data indicate that sustained, community transmission had begun before detection of the first two nontravel–related U.S. cases, likely resulting from the importation of a single lineage of virus from China in late January or early February, followed by several importations from Europe. The widespread emergence of COVID-19 throughout the United States after February highlights the importance of robust public health systems to respond rapidly to emerging infectious threats.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6922e1.htm

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News

Coronavirus was already in Italy by December, waste water study finds – BBC News

Italian scientists say sewage water from two cities contained coronavirus traces in December, long before the country’s first confirmed cases.

The National Institute of Health (ISS) said water from Milan and Turin showed genetic virus traces on 18 December.

It adds to evidence from other countries that the virus may have been circulating much earlier than thought.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-53106444

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Fergus Walsh: Was coronavirus here earlier than we thought? – BBC

My experience of testing positive for coronavirus antibodies clearly struck a nerve. Two weeks ago I wrote that I’d had no recent symptoms but dismissed a bout of pneumonia in January because it was weeks before the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK.

Many of you responded with your own experiences of having Covid-like symptoms – some as far back as November – and urged me to investigate further…

…No individual has yet been identified as “patient zero”, the first person to get infected with the new virus…

…But plenty of people are doubting the official timeline.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52935644

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News

This article is more than 1 month old Could Covid-19 have reached the UK earlier than thought? – The Guardian

In a blog post written last month, Mayer said she emailed Gill’s thoracic specialist to ask the question. “His response winded me,” she wrote. The consultant said: “It seemed to me at the time of Andy’s illness that we had not fully understood why he deteriorated as he did. Once we learned more about Covid-19, I thought there was a real possibility that Andy had been infected by Sars-Cov-2.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/01/spate-of-possible-uk-coronavirus-cases-from-2019-come-to-light

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News

Colmar: des traces du coronavirus détectées sur un scanner dès le 16 novembre – Le Figaro

Radiologists at the Albert Schweitzer hospital in Colmar have detected traces of COVID-19 since November 2019.

https://www.lefigaro.fr/sciences/colmar-des-traces-du-coronavirus-detectees-sur-un-scanner-des-le-16-novembre-20200519

English article on the same topic:

http://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20200520-scans-show-french-patients-were-sick-with-covid-19-in-mid-november-doctors-say-colmar-haut-rhin