On Sunday, a hospital in Rome–the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases–announced it had successfully isolated the DNA sequence of the highly contagious coronavirus.
Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the breakthrough will be shared with the international community to help address and stem the recent outbreak, which started in Wuhan China last month, according to Euronews.
“Having isolated the virus means that we’ll have many more opportunities to study it, to understand it and to better test what can be proved effective to contain its spread,” Speranza told reporters. “All of our knowledge and the images of the isolated virus will be promptly shared with the international community.”
Also on Sunday, Chinese officials reported a surge in new cases, according to The New York Times.
At least 360 people have died in China from the virus, and more than 17,000 cases have been reported worldwide (with the majority near Wuhan).
The coronavirus, a pneumonia-causing illness that infects the respiratory tract, with symptoms appearing anywhere from two to 14 days after transmission, according to the CDC,