• The coronavirus outbreak in New York mainly originated from travelers from Europe, not Asia, according to new studies.
  • Researchers also found the coronavirus was circulating in the city as early as mid-February — weeks before a European travel ban was imposed by President Donald Trump on March 11.
  • “People were just oblivious,” Dr. Adriana Heguy, a member of the research team from New York University, told The New York Times.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

New research suggests the coronavirus outbreak in New York mainly originated from travelers from Europe, not Asia, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Studies also found the coronavirus was circulating the New York area as early as mid-February, revealing the virus has been spreading long before more aggressive testing measures were put into place.

Two separate research teams studying the genomes of infected patients in New York came to the same conclusion despite having looked at two different case groups, The Times reported.

“People were just oblivious,” Dr. Adriana Heguy, a member of the research team from New York University, told The Times.

The country’s first confirmed coronavirus case was detected in Washington state on January 19. A little under two weeks later on January 31, President Donald Trump implemented a ban on foreign nationals entering the country if they had been to China in the past 14 days.

On March 11, Trump also imposed a travel ban from all countries in Europe except for the UK, following an unprecedented nationwide lockdown in Italy, which has the highest coronavirus death toll globally.

Nonetheless, travelers from Europe carrying the virus were already entering the country via New York weeks before the ban.

“The majority is clearly European,” Dr. Harm van Bakel, a geneticist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told The Times.

As of April 8, the coronavirus has infected more than 435,000 in the US, and nearly 15,000 people have died. In New York alone, there are at least 151,069 cases and 6,268 deaths.

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