France was originally believed to have recorded its first coronavirus case in late January like many other countries across Europe. But on Sunday Prof Yves Cohen from the Avicenne Hospital in Bobigny, 5.7 miles from Paris, said a second set of tests on a patient hospitalised in December showed COVID-19 was already in the country at the end of 2019. Prof Cohen said he and colleagues made the shocking discovery after carrying out the coronavirus test on samples collected in December.
Speaking to BFM TV, the French physician said: “We’ve reanalysed all negative tests on people who were diagnosed with pneumonia.
“Of the 24 patients, we found one who resulted positive to COVID-19 on December 27 when he was taken to our Avicenne Hospital.”
Asked again to confirm whether the samples matched results to the coronavirus tests, Prof Cohen once again confirmed his diagnosis.
He continued: “Yes, it matched. We’ve controlled twice and it matched again, so we have COVID-19 in December.”
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It comes as a new poll from BFM TV found support in Emmanuel Macron’s strategy to tackle the pandemic has fallen considerably in the past few weeks.
The Elabe survey of 1,000 French adults conducted between April 28-19 found only 38 percent of respondents have confidence in Mr Macron and his Government.
An overwhelming 62 percent admitted they “don’t trust” their leader, a seven-point increase from a poll carried out on April 21.
France is due to begin easing lockdown measure on May 11, with shops and some schools re-opening after eight weeks of near-complete shutdown.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe conceded the lockdown dealt a heavy blow to the French economy but estimated social distancing measures helped more than 60,000 lives.