She suspects she became infected sharing a toilet with wild meat sellers at Wuhan’s Huanan market.
The person believed to be the first ever human infected with COVID-19 has broken her silence.
Wei Guixian is a 57-year-old seafood merchant at the Huanan Market in Wuhan where the virus is suspected to have first made the jump from a bat to a human — her.
She was identified by the Wall Street Journal as potentially Patient Zero; speaking to Chinese publication The Paper (via News.com.au), she described how she first started to feel ill on December 10, believing she had caught a cold or maybe the flu.
“I felt a bit tired, but not as tired as previous years,” she said. “Every winter, I always suffer from the flu. So I thought it was the flu.”
The next day she walked to a small local clinic and got the usual treatment and an injection, before going back to work — the first steps in a global pandemic that has infected over half a million and killed more than 25,000 so far.
When her symptoms persisted, she sought a second opinion at Wuhan’s The Eleventh Hospital — but doctors there were also stumped.
“The doctor at The Eleventh hospital could not figure out what was wrong with me and gave me pills,” she said. When these didn’t help either, she returned to the first clinic to ask for more injections.
“By then I felt a lot worse and very uncomfortable,” she said. “I did not have the strength or energy.”
Finally on December 16 she went to one of the city’s main hospitals — Wuhan Union Hospital — where she discovered she was not the only one from Huanan with the “ruthless” illness.
As her condition deteriorated and she clung to consciousness, doctors figured out that they were dealing with something completely new, and that almost all of the cases could be traced back to the seafood market. Wei was among the first 27 to be diagnosed with COVID-19 — 24 of whom worked in or had visited the same place.
They were finally placed in quarantine.
Wei, who eventually recovered and left hospital in January, believes she caught the infection from a toilet she shared with wild meat sellers at the market.
Vendors on either side of her live shrimp stall caught the disease, as did members of her family.
Wei criticized the Chinese Government for failing to confirm the outbreak until early January; had they acted sooner “a lot fewer people would have died,” she said.
On Thursday the US overtook China in terms of most reported cases; by Friday morning the US had recorded 93k to China’s stalling tally of 81k. China’s number of fatalities (3,292) is still well above the US (1,382) — although numbers in the US are currently rising at a much more rapid pace.
When asked about the comparable figures at his latest press briefing on Thursday, President Donald Trump suggested China’s numbers were not to be trusted.