In an apparent breakthrough, China said it has identified the first person in the country who developed the coronavirus infection. The first suspected case of Covid-19 in Wuhan was reported as early as on November 17, according to newly revealed government data.

The first ever carrier of the novel coronavirus was a 55-year-old from Hubei province and he reported ill on November 17, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported exclusively on Friday, citing China government data.

The Chinese revelation will also lead to a change in the WHO's understanding of the start of the coronavirus spread. The World Health Organisation had said the first confirmed coronavirus case was spotted on December 8, but the global body's conclusions are based on data from different countries.

Coronavirus status as of 12 March, 2020
Coronavirus status as of 12 March, 2020 GISAID

China faces mounting pressure

The revelation came at a time when China faces mounting pressure over the patient zero. The coronavirus epidemic was reported in China in early January, and the situation worsened across the globe two months later. Whistleblower claims had earlier revealed that the China crisis had started in the closing months of last year.

Ever since the 55-year-old was reported with a mysterious illness, one to five new cases were reported each day, the SCMP said. However, the rate of new cases started slowly rising in December. The crisis peaked in late January and claimed more than 3,000 lives in China before the number of infections and deaths started dropping lately.

Coronavirus
A thermal screening being carried out on the passengers arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, at the IGI airport in New Delhi on Feb 2, 2020. National carrier Air India's second special flight to Wuhan, landed at the IGI airport here on Sunday with 323 Indian and seven Maldivian citizens onboard. (Photo: IANS) IANS

Mystery disease rears head

It was on December 27 that Chinese doctors realised that the mystery disease was caused by a new coronavirus strain. Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, made the finding, which he communicated to the Chinese healthcare authorities. The government records that map the spread and progress of the coronavirus has not been released to the public.

The new development will help boost China's efforts to identify the 'patient zero'. The identification of the assumed primary carrier of the virus will help in tracing the source of the coronavirus. Among the first nine cases in Hubei, four were men and five were women. But none of them has been confirmed as the patient zero, SCMP reported.