A shrimp seller at the Chinese wet market believed to be the centre of the coronavirus pandemic may be the first person to have tested positive for the disease.

The 57-year-old woman, named by the Wall Street Journal as Wei Guixian, was selling shrimp at Huanan Seafood Market in the city of Wuhan when she developed what she thought was a cold in December last year.

Now Chinese outlet The Paper says she may be ‘patient zero’. She was told by doctors her illness was ‘ruthless’and other workers at the market had come to the Wuhan Union Hospital with the same symptoms.

The woman said: ‘Every winter, I suffer from the flu, so I thought it was the flu.’

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The shrimp seller added that she believed she contracted coronavirus from the shared toilet in the market. She said Covid-19 would have killed fewer people if the government had acted sooner.

Wuhan Municipal Health Commission confirmed that Wei was among the first 27 people to test positive for Covid-19 . It said she was one of 24 cases with direct links to the market.

Though Wei may be ‘patient zero’, it does not mean she is the first person to have contracted Covid-19. Chinese researchers have claimed that the first person diagnosed with the airborne virus had no contact with the seafood market and was identified on 1 December.

Wei was later quarantined when a connection was made between the bug and the market before recovering in January.

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