Coronavirus cover-up? First case confirmed on Nov 17 NOT end of December, China data says

THE first case of Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus which is now infecting increasing numbers of people worldwide, can be traced back to at least mid-November – with the Chinese government apparently failing to realise what they were dealing with.

Data compiled by the authorities suggesting the outbreak got underway significantly will doubtless prove concerning to the international medical community – and Chinese health officials now scrambling to trace undocumented cases in a bid to better understand how the illness has spread. Up to now, it was widely believed that the disease emerged at the end of November after cases associated with a seafood market in Wuhan began to be identified.


The World Health Organization issued a press release on January 5, warning of a “mystery lung disease” which had first been reported on New Year’s Eve in Wuhan, and which had infected 44 people, leaving 11 seriously ill.

However, it now appears the disease originated considerably earlier.

Data gathered by the Chinese government indicates at least 266 people who were infected last year, all of whom were placed under medical surveillance at some stage.

Dr Li Wenliang

Dr Li Wenliang died of Covid-19 last month (Image: GETTY)

Dr Li Wenliang

A shrine to Dr Li Wenliang in Wuhan (Image: GETTY)

A proportion of the figure has probably been backdated as a result of health authorities testing specimens taken from suspected patients.


The data suggests the first person to have contracted Covid-19 may have been a 55-year-old, on November 17.

Afterwards, between one and five new cases a day were reported, with the number of cases rising to 27 by December 15, and to 60 by December 20 – 11 days before the date mentioned in the WHO’s press release, although the WHO’s website puts the first infection to December 8.

READ MORE: Eurozone circus – Barnier ‘is like a clown trying to hide an elephant’

Temperature China

A worker in China has his temperature taken (Image: GETTY)

On the first day of 2020, the figure stood at 381 – several days before the first reports of the illness began to surface in Western media.

Scientists are now urgently trying to identify patient zero, which would enable them to trace the source of the disease, which epidemiologists think jumped to humans from a wild animal, possibly a bat.


None of the nine cases reported in November – four men and five women, aged between 39 and 39 – has so far been confirmed as being such a patient.

Coronavirus symptoms

A report published in medical journal The Lancet by doctors from Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital previously put dated the first known infection to December 1.

Speaking to Chinese magazine People in an interview which was later censored, Dr Ai Fen said she was reprimanded after telling superiors about about a “Sars-like” virus-related illness affecting patients in mid-December.

She said: “If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand.

UK battleplan

The UK’s Covid-19 battleplan (Image: Daily Express)

Coronavirus cover-up? First case confirmed on Nov 17 NOT end of December, China data says

A medical staff member gestures inside an isolation ward at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan (Image: GETTY)

“I would have f****** talked about it to whoever, whereever I could.”

Dr Li Wenliang, who died of the illness on February 6, was detained by police for “spreading false rumours” after taking to Twitter to warn about the mysterious virus.

The case has prompted outrage across China.


Wuhan is believed to be where the outbreak originated (Image: GETTY)

Meanwhile the South China Morning Post claimed although doctors in Wuhan collected samples from suspected cases in late December, red tape prevented them from confirming their findings for days.

They were also told not to disclose any details to the public.

Even on January 11, Wuhan’s health authorities continued to claim there were only 41 confirmed cases.