In Brief

French athlete ‘caught coronavirus in October’

Olympic pentathlete Elodie Clouvel had been at the World Military Games in Wuhan

Doctors have told a French athlete that she probably contracted Covid-19 at an event in Wuhan last October - a month before China first detected the outbreak.

Elodie Clouvel, an Olympic silver medal-winning pentathlete, told RTL Radio that she had “symptoms I hadn’t had before” after returning from China, where the first known coronavirus infection has reportedly been traced back to 17 November. 

“We weren’t worried because we were not talking about it [Covid-19] yet… but we had contact with the military doctor recently who told us that he thought we had it because many people on the team fell ill,” said Clouvel.

The claim has “bolstered speculation that the coronavirus may have been present in the Chinese city several weeks before it was declared”, The Times reports.

Several other athletes who competed at the World Military Games, held between 18 and 27 October, have also confirmed that they subsequently fell ill. One told French TV channel BFM that he “had a fever, had difficulty breathing and remained bedridden for at least three days”.

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Earlier this week, a French doctor claimed that he had found Covid-19 in a blood sample taken last December. Professor Yves Cohen, head of intensive care at the Avicenne hospital in Paris, said the infected patient had not travelled outside France before testing positive - suggesting that the new coronavirus was already circulating in the country much earlier than previously thought.

Cohen has called for new tests on blood samples taken from the athletes during and after the games in China.

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