A patient diagnosed with pneumonia near Paris on December 27 actually had coronavirus, said his doctor.
This means that the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than expected.
Dr. Yves Cohen told French media that a sample taken at the time had been recently tested and that it returned positive for Covid-19.
The patient, who has since fully recovered, said he had no idea where he got the virus because he had not visited any infected areas.
Knowing who was the first case is essential to understanding how the virus spread.
What do we know about the new case?
Dr. Cohen, chief of emergency medicine at Avicenne and Jean-Verdier hospitals near Paris, said the patient was a 43-year-old man from Bobigny, northeast of Paris.
He presented what would later become the main symptoms of the coronavirus, including a dry cough, fever, and difficulty breathing.
He was admitted to the hospital on December 27, four days before the World Health Organization (China) country office was informed of an unknown cause of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The French patient
told French TV channel BFMTV
that he hadn’t traveled before he got sick.
Dr. Cohen said that two of the patient’s children fell ill, but that the wife had shown no symptoms. But Dr. Cohen pointed out that the patient’s wife worked in a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle airport and could have contacted people recently arrived from China.
The patient’s wife said that “customers often come directly from the airport, always with their suitcases.”
“We wonder if it was asymptomatic,” said Dr. Cohen. He requested that the potential link be further investigated.
Why is it important?
So far, the country’s first three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on January 24.
Of these, two went to Wuhan – where the epidemic was first detected – and the third was a close family member.
This positive test result suggests that the virus was present in France much earlier and will change the understanding of how it spread.
So far, the first human-to-human transmission in Europe has been caused by a German infected by a Chinese colleague who visited Germany from January 19 to 22.
The United States also recently had to revise its chronology of coronaviruses.
Post-mortem examination in California found first coronavirus death in the United States almost a month earlier than expected
How was the new case found?
he recently reviewed the records of patients admitted for flu-like symptoms in December and January.
In total, he tested the swabs of 14 patients, he said.
“We re-tested the nasal swabs that were done at the time in connection with another diagnosis, to try to find traces of the coronavirus,” he said.
“One out of 14 patients tested positive. We tested it twice more to make sure there were no errors. And twice he came back positive. “
Dr. Cohen said he alerted the National Health Agency (ARS) and urged other virologists to retest swabs in their hospitals for Covid-19.
A full report is due later this week and will be published by the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, he added.