Virus strain in Beijing may have come from S-E Asia: Harvard study

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SHANGHAI: A strain of Covid-19 that has infected more than 300 people in Beijing since early June could have originated in South or South-east Asia, according to a study by Harvard University researchers.

The outbreak in Beijing has raised concerns about China's vulnerability to a "second wave" of infections. The virus found in Beijing is an imported strain of Covid-19, according to the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which was published on Tuesday and has yet to be peer-reviewed, took three of the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences collected in Beijing last month and compared them with 7,643 samples worldwide.

The three genomes showed the greatest resemblance to cases in Europe from February to May, and cases in South and South-east Asia from May to June. They were also similar to infections seen in China in March, suggesting the strain could have appeared first in China and returned months later.

China yesterday reported three new cases for July 1, the same as a day earlier.

Two of the infections were imported cases, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

In separate development Tokyo reported more than 100 new infection cases yesterday, public broadcaster NHK said, the Japanese capital's highest daily tally in two months.

The city sought to hold new daily cases below 20 since Japan lifted a state of emergency on May 25, but its tally has consistently exceeded 50 recently. - REUTERS