There are still several huge key unknown questions related to the coronavirus. For example, how many asymptomatic cases have already occurred worldwide? How long do antibodies last?
And finally, when the hell did the virus actually start to make its rounds across the world?
That's a question that today we may finally have a better answer to. In the latest example of scientists finding evidence of the virus weeks, or months, earlier than previously known, Covid-19 was found in sewage in Milan and Turin as early as December, according to a new study. This was two months before the first cases were officially detected in Italy, according to Bloomberg.
Giuseppina La Rosa, who headed up a forthcoming study from Italy's National Health Institute, said: “Traces of SARS-Cov-2 have been found in samples of waste water taken in Milan and Turin on Dec. 18 and in Bologna on Jan. 29. More traces were detected in other test samples through January and February.”
40 samples were tested and analyzes between October 2019 and February 2020 as part of the country's regular wastewater testing.
Hospital tests from other parts of Italy, like the coastal region of Liguria, also indicate the virus was present late last year. Italy's earliest "official" case was linked to a man who sought treatment in mid-February.
La Rosa says the study “may contribute to shedding light on the first phase of the virus’s circulation in Italy."
Stunningly, similar results were found in the waste water in Barcelona, which also showed traces of the virus in late 2019.
Meanwhile, China contends that there have only been 83,325 official cases of coronavirus in the country with just 4,634 deaths.