The novel coronavirus may have been spreading in France as early as December, a senior Paris intensive-case doctor has said. It was believed until now that Europe’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was a man in Bordeaux, southwestern France, on Jan. 24. But Yves Cohen, an intensive-care chief in Paris, told local media that the virus was present in France on Dec. 27, several weeks before the first cases were confirmed. Cohen told broadcaster BFM-TV that his team revisited negative tests for flu and other viruses on dozens of patients who were in the hospital with respiratory symptoms in December and January. “Of the 24 patients, we had one positive result for COVID-19 on Dec. 27, when he was in hospital with us,” he said, adding that the test had been repeated several times to confirm the result. The revelation comes amid signs the pandemic is easing in Europe, with France, Italy, and Spain registering their lowest daily death tolls for weeks on Sunday as they prepare to ease restrictions.
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