First Covid-19 case in France 'was in December'

Henrietta Strickland
May 5, 2020

France, where nearly 25 000 people have died from COVID-19 since March 1, confirmed its first three cases on January 24, including two patients in Paris and another in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.

Cohen said that the wife of the patient, who had never been to China, worked at a sushi stand in a supermarket with Chinese colleagues.

Speaking to BFMTV in France, he said: "We had one positive result for COVID-19 on December 27 when he was in hospital with us".

A team at Groupe Hospitalier Paris Seine in Saint-Denis has written its finding in a study published on Sunday in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

Europe recorded its first COVID-19 cases on January 31.

The WHO said on Tuesday it's possible that more early cases will now emerge after researchers concluded that the first infection in France was in late December and not January or February, which was originally thought.

The 42-year-old man was born in Algeria and had been living in France for several years.

Cohen said it was too early to know if the patient whose December 27 test was COVID-19 positive was France's "patient zero".

Cohen told French television on Monday it was too early to know if the patient, whose last trip overseas, to Algeria, had been in August 2019, was France's "patient zero". However, the news that coronavirus was in Europe as early as December 2019 may explain why European nations have reported some of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the world. He had reportedly never been China, but his last trip overseas was to Algeria during the summer of 2019. The report also notes that one of his children presented with an influenza-like illness around the time the man developed symptoms. He has already been discharged from the hospital.

At the time, he had symptoms including a fever, cough and breathing problems which are now known to be symptoms of Covid-19. This could also explain why things got so bad, so quickly - people may have been walking around for weeks spreading the disease before anyone realized what was happening.

"Identifying the first infected patient is of great epidemiological interest as it changes dramatically our knowledge" of the disease's spread, wrote Dr. Yves Cohen, one of the French researchers. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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