- Coronavirus: ‘Strange Pneumonia’ Seen in Lombardy in November, Leading Italian Doctor Says
by Liu Zhen in Beijing, https://www.scmp.com/
* Virus was circulating ‘before we were aware of the outbreak in China’, says Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research
* Italy has now reported more than 4,800 deaths from Covid-19, more than any other country in the world
A “strange pneumonia” was circulating in northern Italy as long ago as November, weeks before doctors were made aware of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, one of the European country’s leading medical experts said this week.
“They [general practitioners] remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November,” Giuseppe Remuzzi, the director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, said in an interview with the National Public Radio of the United States.
“This means that the virus was circulating, at least in [the northern region of] Lombardy and before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”
Remuzzi’s comments came as scientists continue to search for the origin of the coronavirus. Chinese respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan said earlier that although China was the first to report the pathogen, it was not yet certain where it actually came from. Remuzzi said it was only recently that he had heard from Italian doctors about the disease, which meant it had existed and been spreading without people’s knowledge.
Despite reporting its first locally transmitted coronavirus infections – in Lombardy – only on February 21 – it had had only imported cases before then – Italy has since had more than 53,000 confirmed cases and 4,825 deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the pathogen. By comparison, China has had just over 81,000 cases and 3,261 fatalities.