France’s first known coronavirus case ‘was in December’

France's first known coronavirus case 'was in December'
France if one of the worst-hit countries. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: A patient who has treated in a hospital near Paris on 27 December last year for suspected pneumonia actually had the coronavirus, his doctor has said. This is now considered the first known case of coronaviurs in the country.

The new revelation means the virus may have arrived in Europe almost a month earlier than previously thought.

A swab taken at the time was recently tested, and came back positive for Covid-19, Dr Yves Cohen said.

The patient said he had no idea where he caught the virus as he had not traveled abroad. He has recovered later.

Knowing the first case is key to understanding how the virus spread.

It is possible more early cases will come to light, World Health Organization (WHO) says, and spokesman Christian Lindmeier urged countries to check records for similar cases in order to gain a clearer picture of the coronavirus outbreak.

The government was obtaining confirmation on the case and that it would consider further investigations if they proved necessary, the French health ministry told the BBC.

France is not the only country where subsequent testing points to earlier cases.

Two weeks ago, a post-mortem examination carried out in California revealed that the first coronavirus-related death in the United States was almost a month earlier than previously thought.

What do we know about the new case?

Dr Cohen is the head of emergency medicine at Avicenne and Jean-Verdier hospitals near Paris. He said the patient was a 43-year-old man from Bobigny, north-east of Paris.

The doctor said the patient must have been infected between 14 and 22 December, as coronavirus symptoms take between five and 14 days to appear.

The patient’s name was Amirouche Hammar, he was admitted to hospital on 27 December exhibiting a dry cough, fever and trouble breathing – symptoms which would later become known as main indications of coronavirus.

This was four days before the WHO’s China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause being detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

While speaking ti French broadcaster BFMTV, Mr Hammar said that he had not left France before falling sick. Dr Cohen said while two of the patient’s children had also fallen ill, his wife had not shown any symptoms.

The patient’s wife worked at a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle airport and could have come into contact with people who had recently arrived from China. The patient’s wife said that “often customers would come directly from the airport, still carrying their suitcases”.

Dr Cohen said: “We’re wondering whether she was asymptomatic.”

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