As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak, scientists are working at war-like speed to find a cure for the disease. According to a new study, people who visited Italy accounted for over a quarter of the first reported cases of the coronavirus outside China. The study found that most initial infections were linked to three countries.

Scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mad use of the publicly-available data for tracing the early spread of the deadly virus to dozens of affected nations in the 11 weeks before the WHO declared it a pandemic. They found that 27 percent of all the first cases reported were people with travel links to Italy while 22 percent had been to China and 11 percent traveled from Iran.

Initial Cases of COVID-19

Coronavirus
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"Our findings suggest that travel from just a few countries with substantial SARS-CoV-2 transmission may have seeded additional outbreaks around the world before the characterization of COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020," Fatimah Dawood of CDC, who co-led the research, mentioned as reported by France24. The report that got published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases this week, found that overall around three-quarters of the first cases in the affected nations were linked to recent travel.

Other initial cases were travelers belonging to Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The virus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, last year prompted the East Asian nation to quarantines millions in January. The study also looked at the characteristics of the early spread of the virus, identifying 101 clusters, involving 386 cases in 29 nations during the period ahead of the declaration of a pandemic.

COVID-19 Clusters

Three-quarters of the cases were attributed to mostly limited household transmission, with an average of 2.6 cases per cluster, the study claimed. The 11 clusters related to gatherings had a greater level of infection spread with 14.2 cases average per cluster. The researchers cautioned that the first confirmed cases may not be the indicator of the beginning of a nation's outbreak.

The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world in recent times and is currently spreading like wildfire. The virus has infected more than 17.3 million people globally and claimed the lives of over 673,000 people worldwide.