The beginning of the pandemic: the first case of coronavirus in China

While life in China is returning to normal, more and more cases of a new viral strain are being recorded in Europe every day. So, as of March 13, 2020, coronavirus (officially called COVID-19) has been recorded on all continents, with the exception of Antarctica. Although the number of deaths exceeds 3,200 people, 50,000 infected people have overcome the disease. The article will address the question of what was the first case of coronavirus in China, and how it all began.

When was the first case

When asked about the beginning of the outbreak, the Chinese government pointed to December 2019. A new date has surfaced in current news. The South China Morning Post newspaper published an article about a patient from Hubei province who sought medical help on November 17th. In the patient’s medical record, symptoms similar to COVID-19 were noted, but his status as the first case was not confirmed.

Until that moment, December 2019 appeared in official sources. However, the South China Morning Post, relying on official documents from the Chinese government, says that starting from the first suspicious case on November 17, the virus began to actively progress, and by December 17, 27 infected people had already been recorded.

Who was the first to get sick and where did he get infected

According to preliminary data, the first case of coronavirus in China is a 55-year-old resident of Hubei province. Published in the official news portal of China, the data says:

  • After a possible first case of infection was reported, 9 more patients appeared in November with similar symptoms.
  • By December 20, 2019, the number of patients had risen sharply to 60 people. At that time, all admitted to hospitals were treated for pneumonia.
  • Only on January 9, Chinese epidemiologists found that a mutated strain of an already known coronavirus became the causative agent of the disease. It was given the official name "COVID-19".

The source of the coronavirus, the Chinese authorities call the seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei province, with which the first victims of the disease were associated. In the market, in addition to fish, meat of sheep, rabbits, and snakes was also sold. While studying a new type of virus, Chinese scientists came to the conclusion that its common ancestor used to infect snakes and bats. One of the theories of the origin of COVID-19 says that snakes previously borrowed a portion of the genome of their coronavirus from bats. The man contracted a mutated infectious disease from snakes sold in the Wuhan market.

On January 11, 2020, the first person who contracted a previously unknown virus died in China.

Employees of the Research Institute for Protective Technologies, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection (WIS) inspect a dummy sample which is contaminated with a substance similar to the chemical weapon Sarin, during a demonstration in Munster October 15, 2013. The state-owned WIS is a reference laboratory for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Picture taken October 15, 2013

In January 2020, the possibility of transmission of the virus from person to person by airborne droplets was officially confirmed. On the 23rd of the same month, the authorities of Wuhan, which became the focus of the epidemic, restricted the movement of city residents around the country, and also banned entry into the city. It was not possible to keep the coronavirus within China, and already on January 22, the first case of coronavirus infection was noted in Thailand. COVID-19 appeared in Europe on January 24 and was first identified in a resident of France.

What happened to the first infected

Coronavirus appeared for the first time much earlier than 2019. Earlier in 2002, he had already provoked an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, in China. This type of virus affected the cells of the lung alveoli. However, compared to the 2019 strain, SARS only affected 8,437 people, resulting in 813 deaths. The first person to notice the similarity of COVID-19 with the severe respiratory syndrome virus was ophthalmologist Li Wenlian. The Chinese police immediately took the obligation from the doctor not to disseminate the information known to him in order to prevent panic.

When the first case of coronavirus was reported in China, medical workers did not sound the alarm. The patient was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for acute pneumonia in an attempt to eliminate the symptoms of the disease. When the new virus began to gain momentum, the government took action by closing the borders of cities with an outbreak of COVID-19. All mass events were canceled, residents had to stay at home, the movement of public transport was limited. Realizing that patients with the virus needed to be localized in one place, the Wuhan government decided to build a hospital for the infected at an accelerated pace.

The new hospital was built in a record 10 days. In other cities, patients are provided with quality treatment in capsule wards, where their contact with the outside world is minimal. There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus. In order to cure an infectious disease, a person is isolated in a ward where intensive treatment of symptoms is carried out. In order for the virus to recede, intensive therapy is applied for 6 weeks.

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