Coronavirus: Nottinghamshire woman, 75, ‘first positive test within UK’

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Tests on samples showed the woman, 75, from Nottinghamshire, tested positive on 21 February

The earliest person to contract coronavirus within the UK has been identified, scientists believe.

Analysis of samples by the University of Nottingham showed a 75-year-old woman, from Nottinghamshire, tested positive on 21 February.

A Surrey resident was previously believed to have caught the virus first.

The woman is also understood to be first in the UK to die after contracting Covid-19.

News of the case has emerged only now, because samples were being analysed in retrospect by researchers as they investigated the origins of the UK pandemic.

A total of 2,000 routine respiratory samples taken from patients at a Nottingham teaching hospital between January and March were tested.

The report states: “Patient 1 in this study is, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest described community-acquired case of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK, admitted to hospital care on the 21st of February 2020, and was also the first UK COVID-19 death, preceding the earliest known death by 2 days.”

The work also revealed that early coronavirus cases in the UK would have been identified if testing criteria had at the time been less strict, say the scientists.

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