Multiple early introductions of SARS-CoV-2 into a global travel hub in the Middle East

Ahmad Abou Tayoun, Tom Loney, Hamda Khansaheb, Sathishkumar Ramaswamy, Divinlal Harilal, Zulfa Omar Deesi, Rupa Murthy Varghese, Hanan Al Suwaidi, Abdulmajeed Alkhajeh, Laila Mohamed AlDabal, Mohammed Uddin, Rifat Hamoudi, Rabih Halwani, Abiola Senok, Qutayba Hamid, Norbert Nowotny*, Alawi Alsheikh-Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


International travel played a significant role in the early global spread of SARS-CoV-2. Understanding transmission patterns from different regions of the world will further inform global dynamics of the pandemic. Using data from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major international travel hub in the Middle East, we establish SARS-CoV-2 full genome sequences from the index and early COVID-19 patients in the UAE. The genome sequences are analysed in the context of virus introductions, chain of transmissions, and possible links to earlier strains from other regions of the world. Phylogenetic analysis showed multiple spatiotemporal introductions of SARS-CoV-2 into the UAE from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East during the early phase of the pandemic. We also provide evidence for early community-based transmission and catalogue new mutations in SARS-CoV-2 strains in the UAE. Our findings contribute to the understanding of the global transmission network of SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17720
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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