A top doc says a patient in Paris tested positive for COVID-19 in December a month before the first official case, and speculated he may have caught it from his wife who sold fish “next to a sushi stall where people of Chinese origin worked”.
The patient, who was suffering from pneumonia, was hospitalised at the Jean Verdier hospital in Bondy, in the Seine-Saint-Denis department on the outskirts of the French capital Paris at the end of last year.
The revelation was made by Professor Yves Cohen yesterday, live on France’s 24-hour rolling news channel BFMTV. He is the head of intensive care at two Paris region hospitals, the Jean Verdier hospital and the Avicenne hospital in Bobigny, also in Seine-Saint-Denis.
The doctor said that the hospital made the discovery last month. He said: “We took all the PCRs [polymerase chain reaction; a method to quickly make millions of copies of a DNA sample to study it in detail] that had been done on patients with pneumonia in December and January for whom the diagnosis had been negative.”
He added: “Out of 24 patients, we had one who had COVID-19, on 27th December, when he was hospitalised with us, at Jean Verdier.”
Professor Cohen also said: “He might be patient zero, but there might be others in other regions. We have to retest all the PCRs that were negative for pneumonia.”
However, the man did not go to China, but is believed to have been infected by his wife, who probably did not have any symptoms and therefore did not need to go to hospital.
Professor Cohen said: “His wife works in a supermarket, at a fish stall. We wondered if it was not related to Chinese fish, but she only works on French products.”
He added: “Then we learned by chance that she works next to a sushi stall where people of Chinese origin work. One wonders if she was not been infected without any symptoms. We can’t go any further, but I think it’s up to another institution to do the investigations.”
So far, the first patients officially carrying the coronavirus in France were diagnosed on 24th January. Two were in Paris, the other one was in Bordeaux.
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