A FRENCHMAN is now known to have had coronavirus in December after samples taken late last year were retested and a positive case found.
Amirouche Hammar, 43, whose symptoms left doctors baffled at the time, came forward after a hospital near Paris said it had found a case of the virus in a sample taken on December 27.
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He said he had had to go to hospital because he was suffering “very serious” pains in his chest and difficulty breathing.
Doctors eventually concluded he had a lung infection, and Hammar recovered after spending several days in hospital.
It is not known how Hammar, who has no links to China, where they outbreak began, caught the virus, but his wife does work on the fish counter of a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle airport.
The airport is a major international hub, and it is common for the supermarket to get customers who have recently landed.
The finding suggests that the virus arrived in Europe and began to spread long before it was identified and understood as a public health emergency.
France officially confirmed its first coronavirus case on January 24, exactly four weeks after the sample that has now tested positive was taken.
In an interview with BMFTV, Hammar said he initially thought he had flu, but went to the Avicenne hospital, in the Paris suburbs, after his symptoms became worse.
“At 5am I decided to take my car and I went straight to the hospital,” he said.
“I said, ‘We must call the doctor right away, something is wrong. I have chest pain’.”
He said he had been contacted in the last few days by Dr Yves Cohen, who works at the Avicenne hospital and told he had been “100 per cent positive” for the coronavirus.
Dr Cohen has since explained that researchers at two different hospitals had run new tests on samples from 24 patients originally taken to test for flu.
“He was amazed, he didn’t understand how he had been infected,” he said.
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“We put the puzzle together and he had not made any trips.
“The only contact that he had was with his wife.”
He added that is was too soon to know for sure who was France’s “patient zero”.