By: Jeanna Bryner – Live Science Editor-in-Chief
A 55-year-old individual from Hubei province in China may have been the first person to have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus spreading across the globe. That case dates back to Nov. 17, 2019, according to the South Morning China Post.
That's more than a month earlier than doctors noted cases in Wuhan, China, which is in Hubei province, at the end of December 2019. At the time, authorities suspected the virus stemmed from something sold at a wet market in the city. However, it's now clear that early in what is now a pandemic, some infected people had no connection to the market. That included one of the earliest cases from Dec. 1, 2019 in an individual who had no link to that seafood market, researchers reported Jan. 20 in the journal The Lancet.
Scientists now suspect this coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, originated in a bat and somehow hopped to another animal, possibly the pangolin, which then passed it on to humans. The disease is now spreading between people without any animal intermediary.
Now, doctors and scientists are trying to trace the virus back to where it originated to learn more about its spread. If, for instance, doctors can find the earliest cases, they may be able to identify the animal host where the virus lurks. [FULL STORY]