New York's patient zero, Lawrence Garbuz, a lawyer, who recovered from COVID-19 after testing positive for it on March 2, said that doctors believed him to be suffering from 'winter cough' when he was first examined.

Deemed to be the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, New York has registered over 340,000 positive cases and more than 26,000 deaths.

Garbuz attended social gatherings before testing positive

Opening up about his ordeal for the first time, Garbuz said that he initially believed that he was suffering from winter cough. Garbuz and his wife Adina will be appearing on NBC News' TODAY on Monday.

Lawrence Garbuz,
Lawrence Garbuz with his wife Adina. Facebook

In a clip of the interview released by the network, the lawyer from Westchester county said when the doctors first examined him, there was "no mention" of the deadly virus. "I just thought it was a cough. A winter cough and quite frankly, I'm not certain that any of the sort of medical staff had been thinking about that initially when they examined me, Garbuz said adding that 'there was no mention of the virus at all during his visit to the doctor.

According to the New York Post, the 50-year-old lawyer was the second patient to test positive for the coronavirus on March 2. After receiving treatment and testing negative for the virus, he was allowed to leave the hospital.

Nine News reported that Garbuz, who went on to attend religious events at the Young Israel of New Rochelle synagogue, before testing positive, was linked with over 50 coronavirus cases, including his wife, son, daughter, a neighbour who drove him to the hospital, another friend, and that friend's family. After he was tested positive for the virus, the health officials created a containment zone that encircled the synagogue, on March 10.

The health authorities believed that Garbuz, father of four kids, who took the Metro-North train to travel to his Manhattan law firm, possibly contracted the illness locally.

Garbuz' family pleaded not be blamed for the spread

According to the state data, nearly 1,341 people have died and over 31,000 infected due to the fatal virus in Westchester County alone. Earlier, pleading to the public to not blame them for spreading the coronavirus, Adina said that she hoped that her husband is remembered as one who helped in containing the spread of the virus.

In a Facebook post, Adina wrote: "I hope the Garbuz name becomes associated not as the ones with coronavirus but the ones who were instrumental in helping get this contained. Of course [Lawrence] went to the doctor and did so many times. No one figured it out and it even took the hospital days to figure it out. This was all new, he had no risk factors to presume he had this."

Meanwhile, three Westchester residents, including a doctor, filed a class-action lawsuit against the World Health Organization, for their role in covering the pandemic. The suit, filed in April, accused the world health body of gross negligence and failure to handle the spread of the virus globally.

"The WHO mishandled and mismanaged the response to the discovery of the coronavirus and upon information and belief, engaged in a cover-up of the COVID- 19 pandemic in China," the residents mentioned in their suit.