Covid-19: Chinese woman, 57, identified as ‘Patient zero’ from Wuhan seafood market

She has recovered but her actions showed she didn't know how serious her infection was.

Belmont Lay| March 30, 03:56 AM

According to a document leaked to media, the first person from the Wuhan market in China to test positive for the novel coronavirus was a woman selling live shrimps.

The Wall Street Journal has identified the 57-year-old woman as Wei Guixian.

The seafood merchant at Wuhan’s Huanan market first started to feel sick on Dec. 10, 2019.

Her actions at that time suggested her ailment did not appear out of the ordinary and did not raise any alarm initially.

“I felt a bit tired, but not as tired as previous years,” she reportedly told Chinese news outlet The Paper, recalling her initial symptoms.

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

Went to seek treatment for cold

How the woman treated her ailment appeared normal enough.

With no inkling she could be critically stricken, she walked to a small local clinic to get some treatment after thinking she was getting a cold, and then went back to work.

That was on Dec. 11, when she visited her local clinic and received an injection.

This hardiness potentially spread the virus to countless others.

However, Wei continued to feel sick.

So, she sought a second opinion at Wuhan’s The Eleventh Hospital.

“The doctor at The Eleventh hospital could not figure out what was wrong with me and gave me pills,” she said.

She ended up going back to the clinic to ask for more injections.

“By then I felt a lot worse and very uncomfortable,” Wei said.

“I did not have the strength or energy.”

On Dec. 16, she headed to one of the city’s biggest hospitals, the Wuhan Union Hospital, for a proper check.

A doctor there described her illness as “ruthless”.

He told her that several other people from Huanan had already showed up with similar symptoms.

Eight days later, by mid-December, Wei was barely conscious.

Admitted to hospital, she was one of the first cases.

She was only finally quarantined in late December.

By that time, doctors established the link between the respiratory illness and the seafood market.

Made a recovery

Wei has recovered since leaving hospital in early January.

Vendors on either side of Wei also contracted Covid-19.

She told The Paper she believes she may have become infected using the same toilet in the market shared with wild meat sellers.

Wei's family members, including one of her daughters and her niece, were also infected.

The Chinese government did not publicly confirm the virus outbreak until early January.

Wei said if they had acted sooner, “a lot fewer people would have died”.

First 27 patients diagnosed with Covid-19

According to a statement from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on Dec. 31, Wei was one of the first 27 patients diagnosed with Covid-19.

She was also one of the 24 cases who had direct links to the Huanan Market.

Despite Wei having been identified as “patient zero” from the Huanan Market, the first person in Wuhan to contract the disease still remains a mystery.

Finding "patient zero" is believed to be of great help to scientists.

It can help them trace the source of the virus, generally thought to have jumped from bats to humans.

According to South China Morning Post, the Chinese government has identified 266 people who were infected in 2019, all of whom came under medical surveillance at some point.

Top photo of Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market via Getty

 

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