New Coronavirus Introduced to California Several Different Times: Study

TUESDAY, June 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The new coronavirus appears to have arrived in California several different times, new genetic research suggests.

"We found out that there have been multiple introductions into California of different lineages of the virus," study leader Dr. Charles Chiu, professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNN.

In the first few weeks after the new coronavirus first appeared in the United States, it wasn't spreading freely across California, but was introduced in a number of separate incidents, according to the study published in the journal Science.

"It shows that there were several different sparks landing in Northern California, many of which fizzled out probably due to a combination of public health measures and luck," evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey, who was not involved in the study, told CNN.

For the study, Chiu and colleagues analyzed the genomes of the new coronavirus that infected 36 people in nine California counties.

One finding was that an outbreak that infected more than 700 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February most likely originated with one passenger who carried a strain that circulated widely in Washington state and elsewhere, Chiu told CNN.

Another outbreak in Solano County was limited to three people -- a patient and two healthcare workers who cared for her. Contact tracing and quick isolation of the new cases prevented further spread, according to Chiu.

Even though it's a small study, it helps show how a few cases can turn into a pandemic, and how rapid response can stop the spread, Chiu told CNN.

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