A shrimp peddler at the Chinese market where the coronavirus pandemic likely began has been identified as one of the first victims of the disease — and possibly “patient zero.”
The 57-year-old woman, identified by the Wall Street Journal as Wei Guixian, was the first person from the now-notorious Huanan market in Wuhan to test positive for the deadly bug.
She was at work Dec. 10 when she developed what she thought were cold symptoms, Chinese outlet The Paper reported. So she walked to a small local clinic for treatment and then went back to work — likely spreading the contagion.
“I felt a bit tired, but not as tired as previous years,” she told The Paper, according to a translation by news.com.au. “Every winter, I always suffer from the flu. So I thought it was the flu.”
She visited a local clinic on Dec. 11 and received an injection, but didn’t feel any better, so she went to the Eleventh Hospital in Wuhan.
“The doctor at the Eleventh Hospital could not figure out what was wrong with me and gave me pills,” Wei told the Chinese outlet — but those didn’t work either.
“By then I felt a lot worse and very uncomfortable,” Wei said. “I did not have the strength or energy.”
On Dec. 16, Wei went to Wuhan Union Hospital — one of the city’s biggest — to get checked out.
A doctor there described her illness as “ruthless” and told her several other people from the same market had already come in with similar symptoms.
A Dec. 31 statement from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission revealed that Wei was among the first 27 patients to test positive for COVID-19, and one of 24 cases with direct links to the seafood market.
Wei, who has since recovered and left the hospital in January, said she thinks she contracted the infection from a market toilet in the market she shared with meat sellers and others, according to the Journal.
The vendors who worked on either side of Wei, along with one of her daughters, a niece and the niece’s husband, also caught the deadly bug, the paper reported.
“A lot fewer people would have died” in the country if the government had acted sooner, Wei told the Journal in February.
Wei may have been “patient zero” at the market, but it’s still unclear if she was the first person to ever contract the novel coronavirus in the country.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.