The intermediate host of COVID-19 so far remains a mystery to scientists, who have only traced its possible origin to bats. Researchers suspect a wide range of animals sold at the Huanan Seafood Market to have made the virus transfer to humans: birds, frogs, snakes and rabbits, among others.
According to a Wuhan Municipal Health Commission report that was leaked to the media recently, a 57-year-old seafood merchant was one of the first recipients of the virus that is causing a global meltdown.
Prior to the diagnosis, the woman, Wei Guixian, sold shrimp at the controversial Chinese market. The report identified her as one of 27 people who were first diagnosed with the disease. On December 10, Wei began to display symptoms of the cold and was treated for the common flu with an injection. Wei thought she had the flu like she did every year around that time. The next day, she decided to head over to the Eleventh Hospital as her symptoms did not recede. By December 16, she went to the Wuhan Union Hospital, which offers the best medical facilities in the city, to ensure she got the advanced medical help required.
Towards the end of December, doctors revealed to her that her symptoms corresponded with the emergence of a new disease from the market and that there were others who displayed the same symptoms. This was around the time the Chinese government was in denial about COVID-19’s existence. She was soon quarantined. Wei left the hospital in January after recovering.
The vendor believes she contracted the virus from the common toilet used by people at the market. “The fatal disease would have killed fewer people if the government had acted sooner,” she said, criticizing the government. While some media outlets have already identified her as “patient zero”, it may not be completely true and needs further verification. It is still not clear whether she was the first person to contract the virus. As per a recent study from The Lancet, the first person with COVID-19 was identified on December 1.
From the first 27 people who were diagnosed with COVID-19, 24 were directly related to the market. In fact, Wei’s daughter, niece and her spouse, who were working on the opposite side of the market also caught the virus. Now, the market remains shut amid the outbreak it has caused.