Giuseppe Remuzzi, a top European medical expert, has said that 'strange pneumonia' cases were witnessed in Italy from November onward. His comments come at a time when China is fighting a perception war, trying to evade the responsibility of both being the origin of novel coronavirus and its initial cover-up, which led to the situation highly deteriorating.
What did the Italian expert say?
"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," he added, according to South China Morning Post.
Italy reported its first novel coronavirus case on January 26 and the first case of local transmission on February 21. Its number of cases and associated fatalities have ballooned since then to reach 59,138 cases and 5,476 fatalities, as on Monday.
What do we know about the initial coronavirus outbreak in China?
China reported its first Covid-19 case on December 31, with its origin attributed to a local wet market. This came after a slew of cover-ups, which involved, detention of Wuhan doctors, who tried to blow the whistle around the outbreak of SARS-like disease.
The WHO followed China's official stance and claimed no human-to-human transmission of the disease. As the cases surged at a rapid pace, China didn't take any steps to restrict the movement of people.
As a result, scores of Wuhan residents traveled both domestically and abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday. Cases started appearing in other Chinese provinces, along with other countries. It was only on January 20 that China announced that human-to-human transmission of novel coronavirus was possible.
After the statement of the Italian expert, the origin of the disease might be contested. But, meanwhile, it has given an opportunity to the Chinese to evade the blame for the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier, a top Chinese diplomat claimed that the coronavirus was brought to Wuhan by the US military.