According to a study by US experts, Italy was the largest hub for the novel pathogen outside of China at the start of the corona pandemic. In the eleven weeks before the World Health Organization announced the pandemic case on March 11, 27 percent of all reported infections outside China were related to trips to Italy, according to a study by the US health authority CDC.
According to the study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 22 percent of Corona cases reported outside of China in the first few weeks were related to trips to China and another 11 percent to trips to Iran.
“Our results suggest that trips from just a few countries with significant SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks could have triggered further outbreaks around the world,” said CDC researcher Fatimah Dawood.
The researchers relied on publicly available information from authorities and organizations. In this way, they identified a total of 101 regions in 29 countries with a high concentration of cases before the pandemic was declared.
In most of these clusters, the spread remained relatively limited within a few households. Eleven of the clusters were associated with travel groups, religious gatherings and festivals – and in these cases, significantly higher infection rates were found.
Since the virus first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December, more than 17 million cases have been registered worldwide. More than 650,000 people died.