Manitoba may review past pneumonia cases in search of earlier, unidentified COVID-19 cases

By | May 7, 2020

The province of Manitoba says it may review the possibility that past medical cases of pneumonia were actually earlier, unknown cases of COVID-19.

This comes in response to a request from the World Health Organization, which is now second-guessing its earlier assessment of when — and where — the highly contagious virus first made the leap to humans.

The WHO reassessment comes after a report that COVID-19 actually emerged in December in France, weeks sooner than the disease was previously thought to have arrived in Europe.

A French hospital that retested old samples from pneumonia patients discovered that it treated a man who had COVID-19 as early as Dec. 27, nearly a month before the French government confirmed its first cases.

“This gives a whole new picture on everything,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday, referring to the French reports.

Lindmeier urged countries to check records for pneumonia cases of unspecified origin in late 2019, saying that could give the world a “new and clearer picture” of the outbreak.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the province of Manitoba confirmed that such a review is being considered here.

“Manitoba Health, Seniors and Health Living is looking into the review of past pneumonia cases,” the spokesperson told the CBC.

The spokesperson did not elaborate further.

As of Wednesday night, Canada had 63,496 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with a total of 4,348 COVID-19-related deaths reported in this country.

More than 1.1 million people have contracted the virus across Europe and more than 137,000 have died, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 

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