On this day: COVID-19 patient zero reportedly diagnosed in China in 2019 – Community News
Covid-19

On this day: COVID-19 patient zero reportedly diagnosed in China in 2019

November 17, 2021 will be two years since the first human case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was discovered, which was essentially the start of the pandemic that has spread worldwide and claimed millions of lives, according to reports in the local media.

Local newspaper The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported in March 2020 that the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed by Chinese authorities on this day, weeks before the existence of COVID-19 was announced to the world. According to this report, which was widely quoted by other media outlets but never independently confirmed, the first COVID-19 patient was an unidentified 55-year-old from China’s Hubei province.
Hubei province is home to the city of Wuhan, which most experts agree the pandemic started.

The origins of the pandemic are still hotly contested by researchers and politicians worldwide. Indeed, the November 17 diagnosis has yet to be independently confirmed. However, a November-October origin seems likely, according to academic papers studying the sequenced cases of SARS-CoV-2.

Exactly how the virus spread and where it originated remains unclear, although it is widely believed to be a zoonotic disease originally found in bats, like many coronaviruses.

A building with a Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sign is pictured in Wuhan, the Chinese city hardest hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Hubei province, China May 15, 2020. (credit: STRINGER / REUTERS)
A building with a Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) sign is pictured in Wuhan, the Chinese city hardest hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Hubei province, China May 15, 2020. (credit: STRINGER / REUTERS)

A common belief about how the virus started to spread to humans was that it was the result of Wuhan’s wet market, which sells live, exotic animals. Others have accused the Wuhan Institute of Virology of being involved, although there is no concrete evidence yet to support this claim.

Much of the uncertainty about the origins of COVID-19 and its early cases is due to the difficulty of getting reports from China. Many have accused Beijing of initially deliberately hiding the virus, censoring information and silencing attempts at whistleblowers.

What is clear is that COVID-19 began to spread rapidly throughout China in late December 2019. It soon spread around the world and was declared a global pandemic.

Two years later, the pandemic is still circulating around the world and has even mutated into several variants. A number of treatments and vaccines have been proposed, some of which, such as the Pfizer vaccine, are in widespread use worldwide.

More than 254 million people are reported to be infected with COVID-19, and the disease has also claimed more than five million lives.