Study reveals coronavirus came to NYC mostly from Europe, not China

Representative image

Representative image

Researchers at NY began to pick up with this in March, around the same time as the Trump management imposed a ban on traveling from Europe around the beginning of the month.

New scientific studies indicate that a majority of New York's coronavirus cases were brought in by travelers from Europe, not Asia.

Adriana Heguy, a geneticist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine who led the research, told AFP that tracing back the virus' chain of transmission will help policy makers make better informed social interventions in the future.

NY has become the epicenter of the virus in the United States.

In mid-March travelers coming to NY from Europe, where outbreaks in Italy and Spain were already spiking, were being asked at John F. Kennedy International Airport only if they had been to China or Iran, not if they had visited the hardest-hit nations in Europe, the Times reports. China was under the United States' early travel restrictions in February.

Figures from the US Commerce Department from December, January and February, which were the critical early months in the outbreak, reveal how hundreds of thousands or even millions of undetected coronavirus cases could have entered the country while medical experts remained unaware of the seriousness of the illness.

The Mount Sinai team analyzed 84 distinct COVID-19 genomes out of 800 confirmed cases treated at the Mount Sinai Health System, the hospital said in a press release.

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President Trump on January 31 announced the US would impose new restrictions on travel from China into the United States.

Both teams separately concluded that the hidden spread of the virus could have been discovered had aggressive testing measured been put into place much earlier.

"Given the travel and the air traffic from anywhere in Italy, but also particularly northern Italy, it's just not surprising that unfortunately and inadvertently NY was seeded before they really knew what was going on", Fauci said. Wuhan, China's coronavirus ground zero, was on lockdown in mid-January as well.

Beijing was accused of covering up the spread of the virus, which may have left China's borders through asymptomatic patients well before new cases were picked up around the world. "It was a disaster that we didn't do testing", Dr. Heguy said.

The findings also tie in with a spate of mysterious pneumonia cases that NY physicians were treating before large scale testing began in the city, she added.

All organisms mutate over time, but so-called RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 introduce errors in each cycle of their replication.

People stand in line at East River Plaza for shopping at Costco and Target on April 8, 2020 in New York City.

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