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French doctors discover a COVID-19 patient from December 2019

The 42-year-old didn’t have a travel history

SAMAA | - Posted: May 5, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago
SAMAA |
Posted: May 5, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago

Photo: AFP

Doctors in France have found evidence that the novel coronavirus had hit the country almost a month before the French government confirmed its first few cases.

A Paris hospital, while retesting some old samples of pneumonia, found that it had treated a patient with coronavirus in December.

This means that COVID-19 had hit Europe way earlier than the first few cases showed up in France or former epicenter Italy.

“COVID-19 was already spreading in France in late December 2019, a month before the official first cases in the country,” the team at the Groupe Hospitalier, Paris wrote in a study published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

The doctors found people admitted at the hospital with flu-like illness between December 2 and January 16 who were not diagnosed with influenza. They tested old samples from those patients for the deadly virus.

The 42-year-old man was born in Algeria and had been living in France for several years. He did not have any travel history of China. He infected two of his children as well.

Doctors think he might have been the “patient zero” of Europe.

“Identifying the first infected patient is of great epidemiological interest as it changes dramatically our knowledge regarding SARS-COV-2 and its spreading in the country,” the team wrote.

Europe recorded its first COVID-19 cases on January 31. The patients had travel history of China.

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