Coronavirus may have been in California before China’s outbreak was announced, study suggests

The novel coronovirus may be roaming in early December in southern California, a new study from UCLA reveals in the Peer-Review Journal of Medical Internet Research.

After analyzing electronic health records from UCLA health hospitals and clinics, the researchers found that at the beginning of the week of December 22, hospitals reported an unusually high number of patients experiencing cough and acute respiratory failure compared to previous years Started reporting. For reference, the Chinese government first reported the novel disease to the World Health Organization on 31 December.

The study’s lead author, Dr. “For many diseases, outpatient setting data can give early warning to emergency departments and hospital intensive care units,” said Joan Elmore. Hospitalization data, but we also noted the establishment of a large outpatient clinic, where most patients turn to medical care when illness and symptoms arise. ”

Researchers compared health system and patient visit records between the period from December 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020, and found that outpatient clinic visits for cough caregivers increased by more than 50%. . The number of visits by patients reporting a cough was higher than the average number of similar visits in more than 1,000 prior five years.

The COVID-19 clinical trial was rare during the winter months, limiting the study’s findings.

“We can never know whether these additional patients in our area represented early and undetermined COVID-19 cases,” said Elmore. “But lessons learned from this epidemic, combined with health care analytics that enable real-time monitoring of disease and symptoms, can potentially help us identify and track emerging outbreaks and future epidemics. Huh.”

A timeline compiled by Axios shows that China had evidence that something had happened within a few weeks before the virus was officially reported to the WHO.

Eric Ting is an SFGATE reporter. Email: [email protected] | Twitter:@_ericting