A French hospital that retested old samples from pneumonia patients has discovered that it treated a man who had Covid-19 as early as 27 December, nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases.
Yves Cohen, head of resuscitation at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals in the northern suburbs of Paris, told BFM TV that scientists had retested samples from 24 patients treated in December and January who tested negative for the flu.
The doctors from the Groupe Hospitalier Paris Seine in Saint-Denis said a sample taken from a 42-year-old fishmonger, admitted to the emergency room on 27 December, had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The man reported coughing up blood, a headache and a fever. He was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit, though he recovered and was discharged on 29 December.
Cohen said, “He was sick for 15 days and infected his two children, but not his wife, who works in a supermarket. He was amazed. He didn’t understand how he had been infected. We put the puzzle together and he had not made any trips. The only contact that he had was with his wife, who works in the grocery store.”
Local health authorities are investigating whether sushi vendors working next to the woman’s workplace, the fish counter, had traveled to China before the end of December.
Government talks with scientists
“The government is taking note [of the news] and is in touch with scientists and experts to try to confirm (or not) this discovery,” a spokesperson for the French health ministry said Monday in an email. “As a second step, we could consider more investigations if needed.”
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it was aware of the French news and redirected questions to the French health ministry.
A European Commission official said the ECDC had not so far received reports of cases reclassified retrospectively in France or elsewhere in Europe.