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Following the emergence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China in December 2019, specific COVID-19 surveillance was launched in France on January 10, 2020. Two weeks later, the first three imported cases of COVID-19 into Europe were diagnosed in France. We sequenced 97 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genomes from samples collected between January 24 and March 24, 2020 from infected patients in France. Phylogenetic analysis identified several early independent SARS-CoV-2 introductions without local transmission, highlighting the efficacy of the measures taken to prevent virus spread from symptomatic cases. In parallel, our genomic data reveals the later predominant circulation of a major clade in many French regions, and implies local circulation of the virus in undocumented infections prior to the wave of COVID-19 cases. This study emphasizes the importance of continuous and geographically broad genomic sequencing and calls for further efforts with inclusion of asymptomatic infections.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠