Initial COVID-19 Infections In CT Came From Europe, Researchers Find

CAPE TOWN - Genome sequencing, by colleagues at Stellenbosch University and the Network for Genomic Surveillance, was used to trace most of the very first COVID-19 cases reported in the Western Cape back to Europe.

By:Kevin Brandt, 17 July, 2020

Picture: p>Scientists tracked Cape Town's initial coronavirus infections well before the introduction of the national lockdown. They analysed coronavirus samples found in the city by breaking it down into its very basic genetic building blocks and comparing these with samples of the virus found in Europe.

Experts studied viral genetic material obtained from 46 COVID-19 positive patients in Cape Town to come to this conclusion.

The director of the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, Professor Tulio de Oliveira was part of the research.

The report stated: 'Based on the molecular clock analyses we can confirm that all the introductions into Cape Town occurred between the last week of February and in the first two weeks of March 2020.

'February and March is high tourist season in Cape Town with hundreds of thousands of arrivals in the two months. Following the rising number of cases being diagnosed in the Republic, the national government quickly enforced a lockdown. This basically brought international travel to and from South Africa to a halt and limited movement between provinces. We, therefore, do not expect any subsequent introductions into the Cape Metro area after 15 March 2020.'

News date: 2020-07-17