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Epidemiological and Genomic Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in 10 Patients From a Mid-Sized City Outside of Hubei, China in the Early Phase of the COVID-19 Outbreak


A novel coronavirus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the cause of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this study, we performed a comprehensive epidemiological and genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes from 10 patients in Shaoxing (Zhejiang Province), a mid-sized city outside of the epicenter Hubei province, China, during the early stage of the outbreak (late January to early February, 2020). We obtained viral genomes with >99% coverage and a mean depth of 296X demonstrating that viral genomic analysis is feasible via metagenomics sequencing directly on nasopharyngeal samples with SARS-CoV-2 Real-time PCR Ct values <28. We found that a cluster of four patients with travel history to Hubei shared the exact same virus with patients from Wuhan, Taiwan, Belgium, and Australia, highlighting how quickly this virus spread to the globe. The virus from another cluster of two family members living together without travel history but with a sick contact of a confirmed case from another city outside of Hubei accumulated significantly more mutations (9 SNPs vs. average 4 SNPs), suggesting a complex and dynamic nature of this outbreak. Our findings add to the growing knowledge of the epidemiological and genomic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 and offers a glimpse into the early phase of this viral infection outside of Hubei, China.

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