Rio de Janeiro, May 11 (efe-epa).- COVID-19 began circulating in Brazil around the first week of February at the time of carnival and nearly 20 days before the first case was detected in the country, according to a study published by Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) Monday.
The study published by the largest medical research organization in Latin America revealed that the novel coronavirus began circulating in the country around Feb. 4, according to research data which use statistical methods based on death records to identify the onset of infection.
The first case of COVID-19 in Brazil – which was the first to be reported in Latin America – was identified on Feb.25 in a Brazilian citizen who had traveled to Italy before returning to Sao Paulo.
Community transmission – when its not possible to trace the origin of the virus – was reported in the country Mar. 13 onwards.
As the arrival of the virus precedes community transmission, the data indicate that its entry in Brazil took place in late January.
The method applied allowed the researchers to claim that while the countries monitored travels and confirmed the first cases of COVID-19, the community transmission of the disease had already occurred.
According to the report released by Fiocruz, this means that the circulation of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 began four weeks before the first cases were reported in Europe and America.
According to the study, the circulation of the disease in Europe started around mid January in Italy while it began in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom sometime between late January and early February.
The report said that, the outbreak of the virus occurred in the New York City in early February .
The research which was carried out in collaboration with the AIDS and molecular immunology institute – headquartered in Bahia – and Uruguay’s University of the Republic (UDELAR), was published in scientific journal “Memorias” of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute.
According to the report, locating the starting point of the community transmission through genetic analysis has a drawback due to short span of time elapsed since the outbreak and limited genomes of SARS-CoV-2 which have been sequenced in majority of the countries.
With the help of the statistical method developed, the researchers estimated the beginning of the community transmission based on number of deaths in the first few weeks.
According to the study, the total number of deaths was more credible due to lack of tests and the large number of asymptomatic cases.
The number of hospitalizations due to acute respiratory illness was also another factor that the research took into considered as the number of patients admitted was higher in February this year than in the same period in 2019. EFE-EPA