Coronavirus was circulating in France in December, case report suggests

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The coronavirus was circulating in France as early as December, new evidence suggests.

Doctors in France discovered that a patient who went to the hospital in late December with respiratory symptoms was positive for COVID-19, according to The Guardian. The man contracted the virus nearly a month before France confirmed its first cases. But it's still not clear how the man was infected, as he wasn't traveling. Doctors also can't say whether or not the man was France's "patient zero." 

The doctors discovered the patient while testing samples taken in December and January from 24 patients  who had all tested negative for the flu. One of the samples, taken from a patient on Dec. 27, tested positive for COVID-19.

Related: 13 coronavirus myths busted by science 

The doctors had originally collected the samples to test for the flu using a polymerase chain reaction test — the same test used to detect the new coronavirus — which searches for bits of viral genetic material. 

The patient, a 43-year-old man from Bobigny, likely became infected sometime between Dec. 14 and Dec. 22, according to the BBC. He presented to the hospital with a dry cough, a fever and trouble breathing on Dec. 27. 

He was sick for 15 days and had infected his two children, but not his wife, Dr. Yves Cohen, the head of resuscitation at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals in Paris told France's BFM TV on May 3. It's too early to know whether or not this patient was France's "patient zero," he added. 

The patient's wife worked at a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle airport and could have come in contact with those arriving from China, according to the BBC. It's possible that the  patient's wife had been infected first, perhaps asymptomatically, Cohen said. “All the negative PCRs for pneumonia must be tested again," Cohen said. "The virus was probably circulating.”

The French government is now working to confirm this case and will investigate further if necessary, the French health ministry told the BBC.

Such early missed cases could have occurred elsewhere around the world. In the U.S., a medical examiner-coroner recently found that two people who died in Santa Clara County in California on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 had been infected with the coronavirus, weeks before the first known deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S.

The very first known case of the coronavirus in the world could have occurred in November, in a 55-year-old person in the Hubei province of China, according to a previous Live Science report. That's more than a month before doctors first noted a cluster of odd pneumonia cases in the area. Though the timeline of the pandemic remains muddy, it's becoming apparent that the virus was spreading long before health care workers detected it.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Yasemin Saplakoglu
Staff Writer

Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

    According to The world health organization scientist suspected cats were to blame.
    Thousands of cats have come down with viruses throughout the United States shelters after HSUS transport of cats in from CHINA 620 ill cats from the Chinese markets were brought into the United States and The United Kingdom right before the outbreak of the coronavirus.
    SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 –Jumped to the human population. Before 2003, only two coronaviruses (HCoV-229E and HCoV-OC43) were known to infect humans.
    To date, seven coronaviruses have been shown to infect humans. Common human coronaviruses Betacoronavirus HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 as well as Alphacoronavirus HCoV-229E and Alphacoronavirus HCoV-NL63.
    In early 2003, outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) occurred in southern China, and then spread to other parts of the world.
    Deadly Viruses That Hopped Across Species
  • Favelee
    admin said:
    The coronavirus may have been circulating around the world much earlier than thought.

    Coronavirus was circulating in France in December, case report suggests : Read more
    The virus has been in the US long before China.. we are slowly see the truth.
    interesting n major National news outlets reported on the Mayor's story. Just some local news station on the east coast of US.

    "Belleville Mayor Michael Melham said he has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, adding that he believes he was sick with the virus in November — more than a month before doctors in China first reported cases of the new disease "