Header Ads

Breaking News

UK man linked to several coronavirus cases speaks from hospital | World news


A businessman who inadvertently infected at least 11 people with coronavirus has identified himself in a statement from hospital in which he said his thoughts were with others who had contracted the potentially fatal illness.

Steve Walsh, 53, who is in an isolation unit at St Thomas’ hospital in London, which has a specialist infectious disease centre, said he had fully recovered.

Walsh unknowingly contracted the disease at a sales conference in Singapore between 20 and 22 January and then went on a ski trip to the French Alps before returning home. Coronavirus has a two-week incubation period.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The UN agency advises people to:

  • Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
  • Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers
  • Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals when visiting live markets in affected areas
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.

Despite a surge in sales of face masks in the aftermath of the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak, experts are divided over whether they can prevent transmission and infection. There is some evidence to suggest that masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions, given the large number of times people touch their faces. The consensus appears to be that wearing a mask can limit – but not eliminate – the risks, provided they are used correctly.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised UK nationals to leave China where possible. It is also warning that travellers from Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand who develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath within 14 days of returning the UK should contact the NHS by phone.

Justin McCurry

He is believed to have transmitted the virus to several people in France. Public Health England (PHE) said on Monday that four people in Brighton linked to him had tested positive. As a result, the East Sussex city has become the centre of the crisis in the UK, with five of eight cases across the country identified there.

Walsh said: “I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care – whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus. As soon as I knew I had been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus I contacted my GP, NHS 111 and Public Health England.

“I was advised to attend an isolated room at hospital, despite showing no symptoms, and subsequently self-isolated at home as instructed. When the diagnosis was confirmed I was sent to an isolation unit in hospital, where I remain, and, as a precaution, my family was also asked to isolate themselves.”


He thanked friends, family and colleagues for their support and asked the media to respect their privacy.

Walsh, believed to be a super-spreader – someone who transmits infections to far more people than the majority do – was transferred to St Thomas’ hospital from Brighton on Thursday.

In a statement the company he works for, Servomex, said: “We are very pleased that Steve Walsh has made a full recovery. We continue to provide support to him and his family. We are working with public health authorities to ensure the welfare of our staff and communities and wish anyone with the virus a quick and full recovery.”

Walsh’s statement came as it emerged a second GP surgery in Brighton had shut after the outbreak of coronavirus in the city.

On Monday, the County Oak medical centre closed because of an “urgent operational health and safety reason”, after a member of staff contracted the virus.

On Tuesday morning it emerged that a second branch of the same practice, located less than two miles away, had also closed.

What is the virus causing illness in Wuhan?

It is a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it has come from animals. Many of those initially infected either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city.

What other coronaviruses have there been?

New and troubling viruses usually originate in animal hosts. Ebola and flu are other examples – severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers) are both caused by coronaviruses that came from animals. 

What are the symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus?

The virus causes pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. In severe cases there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs as well as fluids. Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

Is the virus being transmitted from one person to another?

Human to human transmission has been confirmed by China’s national health commission, and there have been human-to-human transmissions in the US and in Germany. As of 8 February, the death toll stands at 722 inside China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. Infections inside China stand at 31,161 and global infections have passed 280 in 28 countries. The mortality rate is 2%.

The number of people to have contracted the virus could be far higher, as people with mild symptoms may not have been detected. Modelling by World Health Organization (WHO) experts at Imperial College London suggests there could be as many as 100,000 cases, with uncertainty putting the margins between 30,000 and 200,000.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK has doubled from four to eight after four more people in Brighton were diagnosed with the infection over the weekend. One of the men is a doctor who was part of a group that were skiing in the resort near Chamonix with the man who is at the centre of the Brighton outbreak.

One of the other four confirmed cases is being treated at the HCID unit at the Royal Free hospital in north London and the two Chinese nationals who tested positive for Coronavirus in York are being treated at the HCID centre in Newcastle.

Why is this worse than normal influenza, and how worried are the experts?

We don’t yet know how dangerous the new coronavirus is, and we won’t know until more data comes in. The mortality rate is around 2%. However, this is likely to be an overestimate since many more people are likely to have been infected by the virus but not suffered severe enough symptoms to attend hospital, and so have not been counted. For comparison, seasonal flu typically has a mortality rate below 1% and is thought to cause about 400,000 deaths each year globally. Sars had a death rate of more than 10%.

Should I go to the doctor if I have a cough?

Unless you have recently travelled to China or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, then you should treat any cough or cold symptoms as normal. The NHS advises that people should call 111 instead of visiting the GP’s surgery as there is a risk they may infect others.

Is this a pandemic and should we panic?

Health experts are starting to say it could become a pandemic, but right now it falls short of what the WHO would consider to be one. A pandemic, in WHO terms, is “the worldwide spread of a disease”. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in about 25 countries outside China, but by no means in all 195 on the WHO’s list.

There is no need to panic. The spread of the virus outside China is worrying but not an unexpected development. The WHO has declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern, and says there is a “window of opportunity” to halt the spread of the disease. The key issues are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people and what proportion become severely ill and end up in hospital. Often viruses that spread easily tend to have a milder impact.

Sarah Boseley Health editor and Hannah Devlin 

A sign fixed to the door of the Deneway branch read: “The surgery is closed due to organisational health and safety reasons. Please contact 111 if you need to speak to a health professional.”

PHE said two of the four additional cases in Brighton announced on Monday involved healthcare workers.


It said it was working to identify other healthcare workers and patients who had been in contact with them as well as people who had close and sustained contact with other people confirmed to have the virus.

PHE has been contacting passengers who sat near Walsh during his journey home on 28 January, on flight EZS8481 from Geneva to Gatwick.

Source link

No comments