The University of Barcelona (UB) published an announcement on June 26 that a research group led by UB detected the COVID-19 virus in a water sample collected in Barcelona in March 2019.
Scientists with the Group on Enteric Virus of the UB tested local water samples and found traces of the virus in waste water collected on March 12. Before that, scientists had detected the virus’ presence in waste water collected on January 15 of this year. However, the first case wasn’t reported in Spain until February 25, 2020.
These results were published in medRxiv. While COVID-19 was first reported in late 2019 in Wuhan and the first case in Europe was reported in January 2020 in France, the announcement suggests the infection was present before any identified cases in any part of the world.
(Compiled by Mei Yibo)