FRANCE’S first known coronavirus case was in December near Paris, nearly a month earlier than previously believed, a doctor has reported.
Dr Yves Cohen, head of resuscitation at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals in the northern suburbs of Paris, told French media that the retesting of a swab from a patient diagnosed with pneumonia on December 27 revealed he had had Covid-19. This was almost four weeks before the French authorities confirmed the country’s first cases of the virus on January 24.
The patient concerned, a man in his 50’s, who the doctor said had not been to any infected areas, has made a full recovery and was unaware he had had coronavirus.
Dr Cohen explained he had taken another look at the files of patients with flu-like symptoms treated in December and January. Scientists carried out retests of the samples taken from the patients who tested negative for the flu and one came back positive for Covid-19, he said.
“We tested it two more times to make sure there was no mistake. And twice, it came back positive,” he told a French news channel.
The doctor said it was too early to say for sure that the man who tested positive was France’s “patient zero.”
He also said he had alerted the ARS National Health Agency, and called on virologists to re-test swabs in their hospitals for the virus.
There have now been more than 25,000 coronavirus-related deaths in France.