Coronavirus Lurked in France a Month Earlier Than Thought

Doctor says test from December came back positive
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2020 4:44 AM CDT
France's First Known Coronavirus Case Was in December
A medical staff closes his eyes as patients from Paris and infected with the Covid-19 virus are admitted at the emergency service of an hospital Sunday, April 5, 2020 in Rennes, western France.   (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Until recently, France's first three known coronavirus cases were confirmed on January 24. Two of those were people who had recently visited Wuhan, China, and the third was a close contact of one of those people. Now, a doctor says that a patient near Paris who was diagnosed with pneumonia on December 27 actually had coronavirus, the BBC reports. The man, who is in his 50s and has fully recovered, had not recently traveled to any infected areas and it is not clear how or where he contracted the virus. His last known trip had been to Algeria in August 2019.

He was swabbed when he went to the hospital in December, and the hospital recently decided to test 24 samples from patients who had flu-like symptoms in December and January but tested negative for influenza, the Guardian reports. The man's swab tested positive, and was confirmed with multiple tests. The news indicates the virus was circulating undetected in Europe weeks earlier than previously thought, CNN reports. "The only contact that he had was with his wife," says the doctor who carried out the test, noting that the woman works at a supermarket grocery stand and it's possible she was infected but had no symptoms. Two of the couple's children also got sick. (The US recently announced a similarly "stunning" discovery.)

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