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Five foreign athletes from military world games in Wuhan infected with malaria in October 2019

Source: Global Times

A Wuhan hospital clarified the clinical diagnoses of five foreign athletes at the 7th CISM Military World Games held in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province in October 2019, saying that they contracted malaria and were not infected by the novel coronavirus.  

Zhang Dingyu, chief physician with the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, told Southern Weekly during a telephone interview on Sunday evening, stressing such cases had nothing to do with the novel coronavirus pneumonia, or COVID-19.

Zhang’s clarification came after an old media report resurfaces online, claiming that five athletes were sent to a hospital in Wuhan for medical care and quarantine measures after they were infected with an imported epidemic between October 18 to 27. Posts subsequently went viral on social media, prompting theories that they were the original carriers of the novel coronavirus.

The report covered by a local media outlet in Wuhan did not name the epidemic. 

Since the outbreak, there were various theories and rumors emerging online over the hunt for “patient zero”, or the origin of the COVID-19. 

A popular theory claimed that the outbreak was likely a result of trafficking virus-carrying wild animals to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan based on studies by experts of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention who isolated the novel coronavirus in the environmental samples of the seafood market.

Online rumors include claims that said an accidental viral leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology under Chinese Academy of Sciences was the cause, and that the virus is imported via foreign carriers.