Tracing China's First COVID-19 Patient, On Today's History, November 17, 2019
Temporary hospital in Wuhan in February 2020 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

JAKARTA - On November 17, a 55-year-old man whose name was withheld was named the first COVID-19 patient. The Chinese government's official statement to the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the first confirmed case had been diagnosed on December 8, 2019.

Doctors who tried to warn colleagues about the new disease in late December 2019 were reprimanded. The Chinese government does not openly admit that the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus, which we currently know as COVID-19, is from human to human.

Citing the South China Morning Post, a team of doctors and scientists in early 2020 tried to trace the virus to its place of origin to learn more about its spread. They found that after November 17, 2019, about one to five new cases were reported each day. On 15 December 2019, the total number of COVID-19 cases reached 27. The daily cases then increased after that, with the number of cases reaching 60 on 20 December 2019.

On December 27, 2019, the head of the respiratory department at the Hubei Provincial Hospital, Dr. Zhang Jixian, reported to Chinese health officials that there was a new coronavirus causing the disease, which that day had infected more than 180 people.

But Chinese officials put forward a conspiracy theory that the United States (US) military brought the coronavirus to China. Citing CNN, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian republished a video of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, speaking to a US Congressional committee on March 11, 2020. In the clip, Redfield mentions several cases of influenza deaths in the US.

Redfield did not say when the people died or for how long. But Zhao defended his statement in support of a growing conspiracy theory that the coronavirus did not originate in Hubei, but rather from the US.

People in Hubei Province wearing masks (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

"When was patient zero found in the US? How many people were infected? What was the name of the hospital? Maybe the US army brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Publish your data! The US owes us an explanation!" said the Foreign Ministry official.

Previously hundreds of US military athletes were in Wuhan for the Military World Games in October 2019. Redfield's video was also published on Twitter by other state media, including CCTV and the tabloid Global Times. Fellow Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Geng Shuang said there were "various opinions" about the origins of the virus in the international community.

"China has always regarded this as a scientific question, which should be handled scientifically and professionally," Zhao said. But he also avoided the question of whether his remarks represented the official position of the Chinese government.

Worldwide spread

The virus that is not well known and hospitals that are not ready to face the daily surge in patients, have made the Wuhan government decide to do a lockdown. On January 23, 2020, Wuhan became the first city in the world to go into lockdown due to COVID-19.

On January 23, 2020, two days before celebrating the Lunar New Year, Wuhan went into lockdown. The streets of Wuhan are quiet: some 11 million people are under strict quarantine, masks and social distancing are mandatory. Because hospitals were overwhelmed, the Wuhan government set up a hospital within a few days.

Post in Toronto, Canada (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The method used in Wuhan was then applied to other cities in China. Big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai immediately implemented lockdowns and mass testing. Meanwhile, people who have just entered China are under strict quarantine.

However, this action is arguably too late. The virus is no longer only in China, but has begun to spread to other countries. The first case of COVID-19 that occurred outside China was in Thailand in early January 2020. While the death case from COVID-19 outside China occurred in the Philippines in February 2020.

Until March 2, 2020, the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo announced that there were the first two cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia. A 61-year-old mother and her 31-year-old child, who are domiciled in Depok, West Java, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Citing the VOI article entitled Recording History of Indonesia's Response to COVID-19 (, on the same day, The Indonesian Minister of Health at the time, Terawan Agus Putranto, said that the first transmission occurred in a 31-year-old patient who danced with a Japanese citizen on February 14, 2020. After the dance, he experienced a prolonged cough until he was finally tested positive for COVID-19 on February 28, 2020.

*Read other information about TODAY's HISTORY or read other interesting articles from Putri Ainur Islam.



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