Coronavirus breakthrough: ‘Patient Zero’ at Wuhan market REVEALED

The outbreak has been traced to Huanan seafood and livestock market in the city of Wuhan – and a 57-year-old woman is believed to be the first confirmed case. The woman, who was a seafood merchant selling live shrimps, began feeling ill on December 10. Believing she was suffering from an ordinary cold, she sought treatment at a local clinic before returning to work, at which point it is highly likely she unwittingly began infecting others.

She told Chinese media outlet The Paper: “I felt a bit tired, but not as tired as previous years.

“Every winter, I always suffer from the flu. So I thought it was the flu.”

Her symptoms escalated, and eight days later she was in hospital as the highly infectious illness began working its way through the population.

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As of today, more than half a million people have been infected worldwide, with more than 20,000 deaths.

After initially falling ill, Ms Wei had sought a second opinion at Wuhan’s The Eleventh Hospital.

She explained: “The doctor at The Eleventh hospital could not figure out what was wrong with me and gave me pills.

“By then I felt a lot worse and very uncomfortable. I did not have the strength or energy.”

On December 16 she went to Wuhan Union Hospital where a doctor described her illness as “ruthless” and revealed several other people in the city had come down with similar symptoms.

She was eventually quarantined in late December after doctors made the link between the illness and the market – although the World Health Organization was not informed until the end of the month, and did not put out a press release until January 5.

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A statement issued by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on December 31, identified Ms Wei as one of the first 27 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, and one of 24 cases with direct links to the market.

Ms Wei explained she believed she had contracted COVID-19 after using a toilet in the market which she shared with wild meat sellers.

She has recovered since leaving hospital in early January, and told The Paper she believes she may have become infected via a toilet in the market that she shared with wild meat sellers.

Neighbouring vendors also contacted the illness, as well as several members of her family.

Vendors on either side also contracted COVID-19, as well as members of her family, including one of her daughters and her niece.

Even if it turns up the seafood merchant was the first person infected at the market, it seems unlikely she is the actual patient zero, ie the first person to catch the illness after it jumped species.

Chinese government data leaked earlier this month has suggested the coronavirus began infecting people in the Chinese city significantly earlier than initially believed, with the first patient identified on November 17, and the possibility of cases even before this date.

Dr Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, has said confirming how – and when – this happened would be challenging.

He told “We actually don’t know patient zeros from any infectious diseases.

“But, sometimes we can identify a patient zero for a given outbreak such as Ebola in Guinea.

“In that case, it was a two-year-old child that was believed to be patient zero.

“For this operation, understanding who patient zero was may help to identify the intermediate animal host. This could help us understand how this virus emerged.

“Understanding who patient zero was also can help us time date this outbreak which would be useful for projecting the trajectory of it.

“Looking at the first human cases may help understand the evolution of this virus in humans and it could elucidate where this came from and understand if similar viruses in that animal species pose a risk.”

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