Last week, I told the story of Germany’s COVID-19 ‘patient zero’: a Chinese employee of the German auto parts maker Webasto who is supposed to have infected a colleague while on a business trip to Germany despite being “asymptomatic”. Except that she did in fact experience symptoms in Germany and took paracetamol.
But the story – and above all, in this case, the first-hand testimony – of Germany’s ‘patient one’, the German colleague who was supposedly infected by his “asymptomatic” Chinese colleague, is also of interest.
At the end of February 2020, a few days after being released from what he described not as quarantine but more like “imprisonment”, Patient One gave an extensive interview to the Bavarian public radio station Bayern1. In response to the interviewers’ first and “most important” question – namely, “How are you doing?” – he replied, “In terms of my health, I’m doing great, really in top form. Also, I was never in fact doing poorly”.
According to Patient One, who requested anonymity from the radio station, he met his Chinese colleague, who seemed fine to him, on a Monday, which would have been Monday January 20th, and on the following Friday he started having “a little bit of a scratchy throat”. By evening, he also had a cough, and he developed a 39°C (102.2°F) temperature, chills and “a little bit of joint pain” during the night. So, on Saturday January 25th he himself took paracetamol, and by the next day was feeling fine again.
“It [the medicine] worked,” he said, “and for me that was actually the end of the story.” Except that on Monday January 27th, already back at work – in fact he appears not to have missed any workdays – he was informed that his Chinese colleague, who had flown back to China in the meanwhile, had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Thereupon, he went to his doctor, who sent his perfectly healthy patient in turn to the Tropical Medicine Department of the Munich University (LMU) Hospital. It was here that he would be ‘diagnosed’ with COVID-19 – even though he was not ill – by Dr. Claudia Rothe. Rothe, as discussed in my previous article, would go on to be awarded Germany’s Order of Merit in 2022 for having thus allegedly uncovered the first case of ‘asymptomatic transmission’ of the virus – even though, soon after this ‘diagnosis’, German health officials would concede that the Chinese ‘patient zero’ had in fact been symptomatic.
Rothe’s ‘diagnosis’ was reportedly made, or perhaps confirmed, based on PCR-testing conducted by none other than Christian Drosten: the German virologist whose SARS-CoV-2 PCR protocol, which was published just days earlier, would serve as the very basis for the declaration of a COVID-19 pandemic.
Having thus been ‘diagnosed’ with COVID-19 thanks to Prof. Drosten’s lab work – and given that Drosten is based in Berlin, not at the LMU in Munich, it is not entirely clear if or how this could have transpired on the same day – Patient One was directed to report not to another medical facility, but to a ‘house’ in the Munich neighbourhood of Schwabing.
It is likewise not clear who gave him these orders. It would appear that German Government officials were involved in the ‘treatment’ of Patient One right from the start. In any case, according to Patient One, he simply drove to the indicated address in his own car!
There he would, in effect, be held not only under house arrest but in solitary confinement for the next 18 days. Sometime after his own arrival, other Webasto employees, who, along with Patient One, formed Germany’s first reported cluster of COVID-19 cases, would also check-in to the mysterious house in Schwabing. But, according to Patient One, they were not allowed to have contact with one another – even though they were all healthy and if indeed ‘sick’ by virtue of being PCR-positive, then sick with the same virus!
“We were healthy,” Patient One explained, “we were more or less held prisoner in this facility and we had to wait until the Ministry [of Health, presumably] decided to draft criteria which would allow us to be released.”
The inmates regularly had their temperature taken – “I never had fever”, Patient One said – and were also tested and retested for Covid on a daily basis. Swabs were taken from both their noses and their throats. Patient One also had his blood taken. He described the situation as “completely surreal”: “I felt completely healthy”.
Asked whether the medical personnel in the house were wearing special protective gear, Patient One responded, no, not really. “Of course, they put on proper masks,” he said. Otherwise, their protective gear consisted of “a kind of painter’s outfit” and gloves.
Asked, finally, as Germany’s first COVID-19 patient, how he would advise others to go about dealing with the illness, Patient One replied:
I’d first advise people to keep calm. Of course, it’s a new virus. That’s well known. But it’s not as bad as the flu. It’s really a kind of cold. The bad thing is that it’s possible to detect the virus and then you get labelled. You just have to accept that. If you don’t have any pre-existing condition, then it also will never get bad. But if you do have a pre-existing condition, and, for example, you get the flu, then that will be much, much more serious. That’s why I’d advise everyone first of all: if you have it, then keep calm. If you don’t have it, then you should get vaccinated against the flu.