In a recent study published in the journal Science, researchers discovered that the first Covid-19 case, also known as ‘patient zero,’ occurred on December 11, 2019, in a female seafood seller at an animal market in Wuhan, China. She was diagnosed with the virus the following day.
In response to further questioning, the accountant indicated that his Covid symptoms started on December 16 with a fever and that his sickness on December 8 was caused by a dental condition related to the retention of baby teeth into adulthood.
It seems that he became infected by community transmission after the virus began spreading from Huanan Market,” the researchers concluded. “He suspected that he had been infected at a hospital (probably during his dental emergency) or on the subway during his commute,” according to Michael Worobey, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Arizona, who was interviewed for the piece.
The accountant had also been north of Huanan Market only a few days before his symptoms started to manifest.
A female seafood seller at Huanan Market was the first reported case, and the sickness started on December 11 for him, after a string of similar incidents among market employees.
Notably, beginning on December 11, she provided information of many suspected Covid-19 instances at clinics and hospitals in the vicinity of Huanan Market, and patients from the Huanan Market were admitted to Union Hospital as early as December 10, according to Worobey.
Huanan Market and three other live-animal markets in Wuhan were known to have sold live animals susceptible to coronaviruses before to the pandemic, including raccoon dogs, which are now known not to have done so.
In the course of the SARS epidemic in China, coronaviruses associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) were discovered at raccoon dogs. The spread was helped by animal-to-human contact in live-animal marketplaces in the country.
The fact that live-animal markets continued to sell diseased animals for months after the outbreak of SARS made it possible to pinpoint the source as zoonotic spillover, as well as the fact that there were several independent animal to human transfers, helped to identify zoonotic spillover as the source of the outbreak.
According to the paper, “Unfortunately, no live mammal taken from Huanan Market or any other live-animal market in Wuhan has been examined for SARS-CoV-2-related viruses.” “Huanan Market was closed and cleaned on January 1, 2020,” according to the statement.
While not conclusive, researchers believe that the fact that the vast majority of early symptomatic cases were associated with Huanan Market — particularly the western area, where raccoon dogs were caged — gives strong evidence that the pandemic originated in a live-animal market.