Doctors from a hospital in Paris, France have discovered evidence that Covid-19 was already active in Europe in December.
NEW evidence has emerged in France to suggest that the Coronavirus may have been in the country weeks earlier than was previously thought.
Doctors at a Paris hospital believe they have found evidence that a patient admitted in December was infected with Covid-19. If verified, this finding would show that the virus was already circulating in Europe at that time well before the first known cases were diagnosed in France or Italy.
The first official reports of Covid-19 in France were reported on January 24, in two people who had visited Wuhan, China.
Intensive care specialist Dr Yves Cohen and his hospital colleagues wrote that they decided to check the records of earlier patients, in case the virus had been spreading undetected.
The French team looked at people admitted to the hospital with flu-like illness between December 2 and January 16 who were not ultimately diagnosed with influenza. They tested frozen samples from those patients for Coronavirus.
“One positive sample was taken from a 42-year-old man born in Algeria, who lived in France for many years, and worked as a fishmonger,” the team wrote. The man had not been to China, and one of his children had also been sick.
“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. Moreover, the absence of a link with China and the lack of recent travel suggests that the disease was already spreading among the French population at the end of December 2019,” they wrote.