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Coronavirus: How did a man from Surrey contract it?

The patient became the first person to catch the illness within the UK

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The Haslemere Health Centre in the county temporarily closed to the public following a deep clean
The Haslemere Health Centre in the county temporarily closed to the public following a deep clean Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/London News Pictures Ltd

Health officials were last night trying to establish how a Surrey man contracted coronavirus amid mounting concern a contagious person is unaware they are infectious.

The patient became the first person to catch the illness within the UK, prompting claims it represented a new phase in the spread of the disease.

As the number of people in the UK infected with Covid-19 rose yesterday to 23, the Surrey case remains the only one where the patient, understood to be male, has not become infected after travelling abroad to virus hotspots.

The Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Public Health England last night refused to confirm whether a Surrey-based doctor who may have treated the patient was taken to a specialist unit on Friday after showing symptoms of the virus. 

Although he has not yet been formally diagnosed with the condition, the Haslemere Health Centre in the county temporarily closed to the public following a deep clean. 

It reopened yesterday, shortly before Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary and South West Surrey MP, said on Twitter he was “thinking of clinicians, staff and patients" at the surgery during this "worrying time".

He added: "Thoughts today with new Covid19 patient and local GP with symptoms alongside their families."

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIt is believed the Surrey doctor has a wife who also works as a medic. It is not known whether she has shown any symptoms or is ‘self-isolating’ as a precaution.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appA number of staff at the Haslemere GP surgery who were contacted by the Sunday Telegraph refused to comment. One employee simply said: “I’m not allowed to say anything. I really don’t want to get into trouble.”

The prospect of a doctor being infected is of particular concern because it is likely he or she would have close contact with vulnerable patients attending appointments. 

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe focus on Surrey intensified yesterday when The Prince of Wales, a pub in Haslemere, announced it had closed “until further notice” for a “deep clean” after a “customer who visited tested positive for coronavirus”.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIn a statement posted on social media, the landlords Nick and Becky added: “We are all well, no symptoms. This is purely a precautionary measure. We are just trying to do our bit to help.”

It is not known whether that customer was the Surrey patient who may have gone to the Haslemere health centre.

Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said it was not clear if the Surrey man had contracted the virus "directly or indirectly" from somebody who had recently travelled abroad.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appRuth Hutchinson, Surrey County Council’s interim director of public health, said she was in continuous contact with Public Health England, adding that those not contacted by either organisation should “go about their life as normal but take extra care to follow public health advice … to help reduce the risk of infection.” 

If it is confirmed a Surrey doctor has the virus he would be the second GP to contract the illness. The first was a medic in Brighton who worked at Worthing hospital.

Of the three cases announced yesterday, two had returned from Italy and the other from Asia. Officials are trying to trace who they had contact with. The patients are from Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.

Tonight a staff member at Willow Bank Infant School, in Reading, Berkshire, was revealed to have tested positive for the virus.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIn an email sent to parents on Saturday night they were urged to stay calm and follow recommended hygiene procedures.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe school, in the suburb of Woodley, is to be given a deep clean and will be closed for a few days amid growing fears there will be a wider outbreak.

The email, from head teacher Michelle Masters, states: “We regret to inform you that we were told today that one of our members of staff has tested positive for the Coronavirus, Covid-19.

"The school will be shut for some days to allow for a deep clean and to ensure that the risks of infection remain low.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app"We will be in contact to ensure that you are kept updated.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“I am sure you will join with me to wish the affected member of staff all the very best for a speedy recovery.”

The Foreign Office confirmed it was supporting the family of a British man, believed to be in his 70s who lived abroad, who became the first UK citizen to die from the virus.

The man, who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast, was the sixth person from the vessel to have died.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appDavid Abel and his wife Sally were both on board that ship and now undergoing treatment for the virus in hospital. They took to social media to express their sadness that a fellow British holidaymaker had died.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIn a YouTube video Mr Abhel said: "Sad news this morning, wasn't it? We awakened to that, to hear that one of the Brits has sadly passed away in hospital out here in Japan.

"Our thoughts, our concern is for all of the families left behind. We are fortunate, we're doing OK, we're being really, really well cared for."

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appMore than 700 tourists have become infected on the Diamond Princess.