Corona pandemic: How the virus spread through patient zero

  • The study traces the infection chains from patient Null, a woman from China, to employees of the auto supplier Webasto near Starnberg and their contacts.
  • Many of those infected had only fleeting contact with the woman. But a handshake already seemed to be enough for infection.
  • The study, which the editorial network Germany reported on, breaks down which transmission routes led to the infection and how high the infection rates of Sars-CoV-2 were in these cases.

Patient Zero is a Chinese Webasto employee who had meetings with colleagues at the company’s headquarters in Stockdorf for several days. A total of 16 people who had 241 contacts were infected. The infection chain was stopped. This emerges from a recent study published in the journal “The Lancet Infectious Diseases”.

For the first time, the research team led by Merle Böhmer from the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety uses the cluster analysis to break down which transmission routes led to the infection. The editorial network Germany reported among other things about the study.

So it probably caught a patient at a one and a half hour meeting, even though there was a distance of 1.5 meters from the infected. Another was probably infected in the canteen when he picked up the salt shaker from one of the employees who had already been infected.

First German corona patient: “It all seemed very surreal to me”

The first German coronavirus patient had already spoken to the radio station Bayern 1 in February about the events surrounding his infection. The man who wanted to remain anonymous said: “There was a short handshake, but the colleague was not sick either. So, I didn’t see that she was sniffing, coughing, or having any symptoms. For me it was completely healthy. ”

The man felt the first symptoms four days after meeting his colleague. First itchy throat, later also body aches and fever. But because of the winter season, he wasn’t worried at first. Only when he found out that the new coronavirus had been detected in the Chinese colleague did he go to his doctor, he says in the interview.

When he got the diagnosis, the man from Bavaria couldn’t believe it at first. “It all seemed very surreal to me. Of course, the situation could not be imagined. Why do I have to now […] be the only person in Germany who has this virus? ”he said to the radio station.

Presymptomatic infection is a challenge

In the study, the researchers report that the virus was passed on in at least one of the 16 cases without the infected person having previously shown symptoms of the disease. In five other cases, this is at least one possibility. In four cases, the transmission probably occurred on the day the symptoms started.

Scientists found a 75 percent infection rate in households where a Covid 19 case was isolated with other household members. Isolation outside the household lowered the so-called secondary attack rate to ten percent.

The transmission of the virus before the person feels signs of illness is a huge challenge for health measures, the research team says. The average incubation period in the cases considered was four days. “Global containment of Covid-19 could be difficult to achieve,” the study said.


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