THE Director of the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies for the Ministry of Health, Fernando Simon, has recently admitted that the coronavirus could have been circulating in Spain undetected as early as February.
Recently news caught on in France that the coronavirus could have been present in Spain’s neighbouring country as early as December 2019. This news arose after France found that they could have misdiagnosed a patient hospitalised in Paris on December 27 with pneumonia which was actually coronavirus. For this reason, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended countries to re-analyse suspicious pneumonia cases ranging from November 2019 to present day.
When asked about this ordeal Fernando Simon recognised that just like France, Spain too could have had the coronavirus circulating undetected before it was first identified in February. Although this is a possibility, he says that “it did not generate a strong identifiable outbreak.”
Once again, he has justified the measures adopted by the Spanish Government to control the evolution of the virus, saying, “we have realised that in Spain there was no identification of an epidemic curve until the end of February.”
However, we must note that after identifying the first diagnosed case in Spain on January 31, it was Fernando Simon who said: “We think that Spain, at the very most, will have a few diagnosed cases, but we hope there is no local transmission. If there is it will be very limited and controlled.”
At the same time the epidemiologist recalls that as a result of the initial positives cases, studies began to be carried out on samples in some parts of the country with outbreaks, and none of them detected any positives. However, they highlighted this in a press release as they said “we know that there was a case that came before the first one that was notified and identified.”
For example, he recalled a case in Valencia that started showing symptoms on February 2 after having been in Tibet: “He had probably been infected in mid-January. Yes, it could have circulated in Spain in some way … it is possible that the first infections came earlier. But, of course, it did not generate an identifiable outbreak. The coronavirus began to have a level of identifiable transmission in Spain in mid-February … yes, it is true that there may have been a few cases before they went unnoticed,” admits Simon.