WHO urges countries to investigate early Covid-19 infections after France traces case to December

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to search through old health records for evidence of coronavirus, after it emerged that Covid-19 was present in France in December 2019, much earlier than previously thought.

China reported the first case of Covid-19 to the WHO on 31 December 2019, and the disease was thought to have reached Europe in the new year. However, doctors have confirmed a patient treated in a hospital near Paris on 27 December had the disease. The patient was swabbed at the time, and that swab has now tested positive for Covid-19.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a United Nations briefing in Geneva today that the finding "gives a whole new picture on everything", and that retesting old swabs taken from patients would help us "better understand the potential virus circulation of Covid-19”. He urged countries to focus on pneumonia cases of unspecified origin from late 2019.


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