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First patient helps capital get jump on coronavirus

By Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-19 10:09
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Xinfadi agricultural products wholesale market is closed on June 13. [Photo by Wu Xiaohui/]

Since the cluster of novel coronavirus infections emerged in Beijing last week, one local man has become well-known-not only because he was the first confirmed case in this outbreak but also thanks to his great memory, he has contributed much to narrowing down the sources of infection.

The man, surnamed Tang, 52, has reported every place he visited since May 30 and provided a list of 38 people with whom he had close contact in the two weeks before he was diagnosed with the disease on June 11.

Tang has been praised as having "the most powerful brain" by netizens.

"His memory is really good. I can't even remember what I ate yesterday," said a Sina Weibo user named Eikuaidaowanlilai, while another said Tang is a responsible person compared with some who still walk around while experiencing fever and other symptoms of COVID-19.

Tang, a resident of Beijing's Xicheng district, has been dubbed "Uncle Xicheng".

Miu Jianhong, deputy head of the district, said Tang wore his face mask during his visit to a doctor on June 10 after riding a bicycle to a hospital. He had an intermittent fever that day.

"That Tang voluntarily reported his symptoms and went to hospital by bike is important to protect other people," Wu Hao, an expert at the Committee of Experts on Disease Prevention and Control of the National Health Commission, told China Central Television.

Tang's accurate description of his visit to Beijing Xinfadi wholesale market on June 3 proved to be important for authorities to determine that the market was a source of infection.

The market, in southwest Beijing's Fengtai district, was found to be related to cases confirmed in the capital since June 11. As of Wednesday, Beijing had reported 158 confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Among a dozen activities Tang listed outside his home since May 30, he said he went to the market's underground area to buy seafood and meat on June 3.

"A child in my family wanted to eat fish. That's why I went to Xinfadi that day," Tang said when Beijing TV interviewed him at a hospital ward on Wednesday.

Tang's activities could also be verified through big data analysis, which can also show where high-risk people who need to be tested are located after a description is verified.

"This is a very efficient methodology while we race against the virus," Wu said.

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