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Earlier Introduction

A recent analysis of a patient sample from December suggests SARS-CoV-2 may have been introduced to France weeks earlier than thought, BBC News reports.

The patient was admitted to a hospital northeast of Paris for a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing on December 27 and, at the time, was suspected to have pneumonia, according to the BBC. But it adds that clinicians there have since been sifting through samples collected between early December and mid-January from patients suspected of having pneumonia, but who tested negative, and re-testing them for SARS-CoV-2. 

Finding this early patient suggests, LiveScience writes, that the virus may have been circulating more widely before it was recognized as a threat. It notes that the first known case of COVID-19 anywhere was in November in Hubei Province, China.

Where this patient might have contracted the virus is unclear, the BBC reports, as he had not left France in months. It notes, though, that his wife works at a supermarket near Charles de Gaulle airport, leading doctors to wonder whether she had been an asymptomatic carrier who picked up the virus from a traveler. 

The French health ministry tells the BBC that it is seeking to confirm this case.