One of the first coronavirus patients in Wuhan, China, said “a lot fewer people would have died” if the Chinese government took action sooner, she said in a February interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Wei Guixian, a 57-year-old seafood vendor in Wuhan’s Hua’nan market , was among the first 27 patients to get infected with the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19.
She first began exhibiting symptoms on December 10 of last year, and was taken to Wuhan Union Hospital for treatment less than a week later. She recalled her doctors describing the illness as “very serious” and “ruthless,” according to The Journal and The New York Post.
She remembered her daughters at her bedside in tears, The Journal reported, and her eldest daughter “would touch me every so often, afraid I would pass away,” she told the publication.
Other vendors from the same market began to check into the hospital soon after. Wei recovered and left the hospital in January. She said she believes she contracted the disease through a communal toilet shared with other people at the market.
Despite having contracted the disease in mid-December and flagging it to health officials, the World Health Organization first received news of the coronavirus on December 31. Doctors who treated early coronavirus patients were also forced into silence by the Chinese government.
Chinese officials have since banned wet markets where live and dead animals are sold, often under poor sanitary conditions and live animal trade following the outbreak. The Chinese government also enacted an unprecedented lockdown on several provinces in the country, impacting tens of millions of residents.
As of March 27, the coronavirus infected more than 597,000 worldwide, and the global death toll has surpassed 27,000. In China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, there are nearly 82,000 and 3,300 deaths.
Since the outbreak began late last year, the US and Italy have surpassed China in number of cases, with 104,661 people infected and 86,498 people infected respectively.