Health authorities this week moved to state that there was no evidence that Covid-19 was spreading in Northern Ireland in the months before the first confirmed case.
But that has done little to dissuade hundreds of people who are convinced that a bug that floored them as far back as December was in fact the virus that has wreaked havoc across the world in recent months, infecting almost five million people worldwide and killing over 300,000.
Only this week Declan Boyle, who has recovered from the virus, said he believes members of his family may have had it at the end of last year.
The former SDLP councillor tested positive and said the symptoms he displayed - exhaustion and loss of appetite - were identical to those experienced by his wife and one of his sons when they fell ill before Christmas. The first case of Covid-19 was not confirmed here until late February.
Since the Belfast man shared his story, others from across the province have come forward to tell why they too remain suspicious that they also fell victim to the virus.
Co Down woman Peggy Kelly says she fell ill after returning from holiday in December. The mother-of-three from Killyleagh describes how she was sick for a full month.
"I definitely think I had coronavirus," says the 72-year-old. "We were in Benidorm in December and came back around the 17th. Right before Christmas I started to feel really sick. I was in bed for over three weeks. I had a bad cough, an awful fever, shivers and shakes, I couldn't eat anything. I was hallucinating, it really took it out of me. I went to the doctor and she told me to take paracetamol.
"It completely took me off my feet. My family were so worried and upset; they said they had never seen me so sick. And I had never been as sick in my life.
I think I had coronavirus because I was never as sick in my life, honestly. I've had the flu before and it wasn't an ordinary flu, it was something different. It was horrendousPeggy Kelly
"It took me at least four weeks to get over it. I didn't know what it was and I suppose neither did the doctors so it was a case of just taking to my bed and waiting until it went away.
"I think I had coronavirus because I was never as sick in my life, honestly. I've had the flu before and it wasn't an ordinary flu, it was something different. It was horrendous."
East Belfast man Barrie Elkin (64) took ill at Christmas along with his wife Sharon and son Barrie (18). The family were struck down by a bug that rendered them unable to get out of bed and struggling to breathe.
"My son Bruce fell ill near the end of December," he says. "He had been out partying before Christmas, as 18-year-olds do. He was so sick on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He was sleeping all day and couldn't eat.
"Some of his friends had texted him to say that they were ill with a bug and couldn't stop coughing. He could barely get out of bed to eat his Christmas dinner. We think we might have caught something off him.
"Five days later, the day after we had been at a wedding, myself and my wife Sharon fell ill together. We both had to stay in bed for around four days. We couldn't move. Every time we moved, our neck and backs were in agony. We couldn't eat, only drink water.
I remember at the time thinking that it was an awful flu, the worst I've ever experienced, and that I never wanted to go through that again. But now I'm convinced, looking back, that it was the coronavirusBarrie Elkin
"We were discussing who felt the worst. I have never felt as bad in my life, honestly.
"We had high temperatures, we had cold sweats and shivers and were totally fatigued. We just wanted to sleep all the time. I had a cough, my wife didn't. She was absolutely floored with exhaustion and sickness. She just couldn't move.
"To me, we had all the symptoms of coronavirus. I couldn't breathe at all. I was really forcing myself to get air into my lungs. At the start of January I went to the doctor and he gave me antibiotics. But they didn't help. Really, I didn't feel well for weeks and weeks afterwards. I also was totally exhausted.
"I remember at the time thinking that it was an awful flu, the worst I've ever experienced, and that I never wanted to go through that again. But now I'm convinced, looking back, that it was the coronavirus.
"We have sent off for the antibody test to see if we have had it or not. We want to know."
Janet Hetherington (64), who lives in the Waterside area of Londonderry with her husband David and son Andrew, says she fell ill following the death of her friend from a mystery virus.
"A friend of mine died of an unknown virus at the start of January," she says. "I started feeling very unwell at her funeral. I was coughing and coughing. A few days later I couldn't move. I was so exhausted, I was totally wiped out and had to sleep all the time.
The fatigue was like nothing I've ever had before, it was unreal. I would go for a shower and have to lie down afterwards. It took so much out of meJanet Hetherington
"I couldn't stop coughing. I tried every single cough medicine but nothing would help this hacking cough. I couldn't sleep for coughing and that just added to the exhaustion. I was ill for about six weeks, right until the end of February. Every time I thought I was coming around, it would hit me again. I couldn't taste anything and I wasn't interested in food at all.
"The fatigue was like nothing I've ever had before, it was unreal. I would go for a shower and have to lie down afterwards. It took so much out of me. It was a horrendous experience. I went to the doctor and he said that there was something awful going around.
"I'm in a choir and I had been talking to some of the other members who said that there were a lot of people complaining about the same symptoms. One of the ladies said that it took seven weeks for her to recover."
North Belfast IT consultant Vivian Ferguson (32) is convinced he had the virus before Christmas. "I started a new job in the first week of December," he says. "In the second week of December I developed a headache and lost my sense of taste and smell. I went completely off food. The pain in my head got far worse over the next few days. It was a crazy pain that paracetamol wouldn't even budge. I also had a bad dry cough.
"I remember getting a fever. I just had to stay in bed. Throughout it all the headache didn't go away at all. It stayed strong. I was in bed for around six days, completely floored. It was only after that time that my headache shifted. It took weeks for the cough to go away. Half of my office was also sick with the same symptoms.
"I have had nothing like that ever before. The headache was unreal. When it started coming on the news about the coronavirus and there was a list of the symptoms, it made me think. I'm convinced that it was coronavirus. I've never been as sick."
Though many people are convinced they may have had coronavirus, medical experts disagree.
Dr Tom Black, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) and a GP in Londonderry, says he is convinced that the bug making people sick before Christmas was a different virus.
My view would be consistent with the prevalent view that we wouldn't have seen Covid in December and January, but we saw other viral illnesses that could have been mistaken for itDr Tom Black, British Medical Association
"There certainly was a viral illness in December and January," he says. "But it wouldn't have been consistent with what we then found with the Covid virus. From a patient's point of view you would have got a sore throat, a temperature, felt unwell, some vomiting and diarrhoea as well. So I suppose there are some similarities but that is because they are both viral illnesses. We certainly didn't see the level of very severe respiratory symptoms that we then saw with Covid.
"My view would be consistent with the prevalent view that we wouldn't have seen Covid in December and January, but we saw other viral illnesses that could have been mistaken for it."
Dr Black says that he disagrees with suggestions that December's widespread illness was in fact the first wave of coronavirus and that we have just left the deadly second wave.
"Our microbiology colleagues are very clear about when the infection came and when they were able to pick it up on their very accurate tests," he says. "I think we are still in the first wave. The severity of Covid was markedly different from a standard flu. It is a much more severe illness in a minority and we didn't see those patients until we were in the pandemic."
And Dr Black says, although there are less patients presenting to our hospitals, the virus is still out there.
"We have fewer cases appearing into general practice. We have fewer cases coming into the Covid centres that the GPs man and we have fewer cases in hospital and in ICU. So in all four areas we have reduced numbers of cases," he says.
"It's not gone yet, it's still endemic in the community. There seems to be a concentration in two places - in care homes and among health care workers. So we are going to have start increasing our testing of patients and staff in care homes, which has been announced by the minister. And we are going to have to increase our testing among health care workers."
As for how many of us might have acquired herd immunity, Dr Black also estimates the numbers are still very low, saying that just 5% of the Northern Irish population might have had the virus already.