The new coronavirus circulated in Brazil in early February, weeks before it was initially detected, and shortly before millions of people partying on the streets for carnival, according to a new study.
Brazil is the Latin American country hardest hit in the pandemic, with more than 11,500 deaths and 168,000 infections to date. Experts say that under-testing means that the actual numbers are likely to be much higher.
The study used statistical analysis to recede from the number of deaths reported by COVID-19 and to establish the probable deadline for the early spread of the virus in Brazil and other countries, said the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), the main health company country's public policy. Institute.
“The new coronavirus started to spread in Brazil around the first week of February. In other words, more than 20 days before the diagnosis of the first case in a traveler returning from Italy, on February 26 … and more than 40 days before the first official confirmation of community transmission ”, said the institute.
This means that the local outbreak was already underway when Brazil celebrated the carnival from February 21st to 25th, an event that attracts millions of tourists and takes crowds of revelers to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and other cities.
The study, which also analyzed data from Europe and the United States, found that the virus was probably also spreading locally two to four weeks before the first cases were detected in Italy, the Netherlands and the United States.
"This long phase of hidden community transmission of the new coronavirus … indicates that containment measures should be taken at least as soon as the first imported cases are detected," said the study's principal investigator, Gonzalo Bello.