Researchers find traces of novel coronavirus in Barcelona wastewater samples from March 2019

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 28, 2020

Researchers in Spain have found traces of the novel coronavirus in wastewater samples collected from Barcelona in March 2019, nine months before the first Covid-19 case was reported in the country.

The University of Barcelona has released its findings on its website stating that traces of the virus were found in the wastewater collected in March 2019.

The team had been studying wastewater samples since April in order to identify newer outbreaks, Reuters reported. It then started running tests on older samples dating far back as January 2018.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been traced back to Wuhan in China in December 2019. However, researchers have found traces of the novel coronavirus in wastewater samples collected prior to the outbreak.

Traces of the virus were found in samples collected from Barcelona in March last year. The study will undergo peer review before it is confirmed.

If the presence of the virus genome is confirmed in Spain, it could lead to alterations in the chronological mutation of the virus, according to reports.

Researchers in Spain had earlier found that the virus was already present in Barcelona in January, 41 days before the first official case had been reported as per Reuters.

Lead researcher of the University of Barcelona study Albert Bosch had said that early detection of the cases could have improved the country’s Covid-19 response. However, it is possible that many cases must have been misdiagnosed as common flu, the report said.

Earlier this month, researchers in Italy had also found traces of the virus in sewage collected in December 2019 from Milan and Turin prior to the country reporting its official first case, BBC reported.

Globally, over 9 million Covid-19 cases have been reported with fatalities surpassing 4.96 lakh.

Published on June 28, 2020

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