A British tourist fighting for his life in Thailand is feared to be the first Western victim of the coronavirus sweeping across China.
Ash Shorley, 32, is in critical condition in a hospital in Phuket after being struck down with the pneumonia-like lung infection while visiting Koh Phi Phi island.
Mr Shorley had to be transported to hospital via a specialised seaplane because his collapsing organs could not cope with high altitude travel.
Doctors said his symptoms were consistent with the Chinese coronavirus, but this has not been confirmed.
The unnamed SARS-like virus has killed three people and infected an estimated 1,700 in Wuhan city since December.
Confirmed cases have tipped 200 as authorities revealed this weekend the virus had spread across China to Beijing and Shenzhen.
South Korea was the third country to diagnose its first case on Monday, following Thailand and Japan last week.
The sharp uptick in those infected comes as millions of Chinese prepare to travel abroad for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Mr Shorley’s parents Chris and Julie, from Thornton, Lancashire, have flown out to be by their son’s bedside.
Ash Shorley, 32, is fighting for his life in Thailand and is feared to be the first Western victim of the coronavirus sweeping across China
Mr Shorley is in critical condition in a hospital in Phuket after being struck down with the pneumonia-like lung infection while visiting Koh Phi Phi island
The unnamed novel virus has infected an estimated 1,700 in Wuhan, China. Authorities said the virus had spread to other cities in China. The total confirmed cases has tipped 200 and three have died. Four confirmed cases are outside China in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea
His father, 55, told The Sun: ‘He was two days from death. If he wasn’t so fit, he wouldn’t be with us now. We are now waiting on tests. It is very serious.’
The coronavirus ravaging China was first discovered in the city of Wuhan in December 2019.
There were 48 confirmed cases on Friday, but hundreds of fresh infections were reported over the weekend as screening for the strain has become possible.
Now, 205 cases have been confirmed including three deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
However there is growing fears that Chinese authorities are hiding the true scale of the outbreak.
A statistical analysis from Imperial College London estimated on Friday the true number of infections in Wuhan city was probably around 1,700, but could surpass 4,500.
South Korea confirmed its first case on Monday after a a 35-year-old woman arriving at Seoul’s Incheon airport tested positive for the virus. She had been in Wuhan last week.
Last week, one was confirmed in Japan and two in Thailand, bringing the total number of confirmed cases outside of China to four.
All of the the Chinese nationals had recently visited Wuhan, but it is not clear if Mr Shorley visited the city on his travels.
it is not confirmed if Mr Shorley has the novel coronavirus. But doctors say his pneumonia-like lung infection has symptoms similar
Mr Shorley’s parents Chris and Julie, from Thornton, Lancashire, have flown out to be by their son’s bedside. He is pictured in hospital
China reported on January 20 the mysterious virus had spread across the country from Wuhan city, including to Beijing.
Health authorities in Beijing’s Daxing district said two people who had travelled to Wuhan were treated for pneumonia linked to the virus and are in stable condition.
In southern Guangdong province, a 66-year-old Shenzhen man was quarantined on January 11 after contracting a fever and showing other symptoms.
He had visited relatives in Wuhan, the provincial health commission said. He is also in stable condition.
Shenzhen officials said another eight people were under medical observation.
‘Experts believe that the current epidemic situation is still preventable and controllable,’ the Guangdong health commission said.
Five other people have been put in isolation and tested in eastern Zhejiang province.
Since cases have been identified outside the country, the WHO has warned hospitals worldwide to prepare for a potential global spread.
Though the known cases of the pneumonia outbreak so far involve only individuals who have travelled to or live in Wuhan, the WHO has warned that a wider outbreak is possible.
Fears are growing ahead of Lunar New Year, on January 25, which will see some 1.4billion Chinese citizens travelling abroad.
Wuhan authorities said they have installed infrared thermometers at airports, railway stations and coach stations across the city.
Passengers with fevers were being registered, given masks and taken to medical institutions.
Over the weekend, 136 fresh infections were reported in Wuhan, bringing the total number of cases China has confirmed to more than 200
A seafood market is believed to be the centre of the outbreak in the city, but health officials have reported that some patients had no history of contact with the facility
Airports in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and the US have also stepped up surveillance.
Temperature checks are being used for inbound travellers from the Chinese mainland, especially Wuhan. This is how the two cases in Thailand were discovered.
The coronavirus, which causes cold-like symptoms including a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and a fever, has never been seen before and has not yet been named.
Officials have described the virus in China, a tourist hotspot for some 595,000 British tourists each year, as ‘novel’.
Tests have so far shown it is a new type of coronavirus from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen which killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
The first patient diagnosed with the novel strain, a 61-year-old man, died on January 9. The second death, a man known only as Xiong, died on January 15.
Both suffered other health problems, the former from abdominal tumours and chronic liver disease and the latter of severe cardiomyopathy – a heart condition, abnormal kidney function, and seriously damaged organs.
But it is not clear if these were complications of the virus or underlying conditions.
The majority of the infected patients in Wuhan have been traced to the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, which has been shut down since January 1.
The WHO said on Twitter on January 20 that ‘an animal source seems the most likely primary source’ with ‘some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts’.
Although the genetic sequence of the strain has now been released, scientists are still questioning how deadly it is, and whether it can be spread between humans.
Scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London warned in a paper published Friday that the number of cases identified in Wuhan may be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Researchers calculated cases could be as high as 4,500 in Wuhan city, and if this is the case, substantial human to human transmission can’t be ruled out.
Chinese state media moved to calm the mood as discussion about the coronavirus spreading to other Chinese cities swelled on social media.
Nationalist tabloid Global Times called for better handling of the new virus than that of the 2003 SARS outbreak.
THE NEW CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA TIMELINE
December 31 2019: The WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Around 44 suspected cases were reported in the month of December.
January 1 2020: A seafood market was closed for environmental sanitation and disinfection after being closely linked with the patients.
January 5 2020: Doctors ruled out severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) as being the cause of the virus, as well as bird flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome and adenovirus. Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported
January 9 2020: A preliminary investigation identified the respiratory disease as a new type of coronavirus, Chinese state media reported.
Officials at Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported the outbreak’s first death on January 9, a 61-year-old man.
January 13 2020: A Chinese woman in Thailand was the first confirmed case of the mystery virus outside of China. The 61-year-old was quarantined on January 8, but has since returned home in a stable condition after having treatment, the Thai Health Ministry said.
January 14 2020: The WHO told hospitals around the globe to prepare, in the ‘possible’ event of the infection spreading.
It said there is some ‘limited’ human-to-human transmission of the virus. Two days previously, the UN agency said there was ‘no clear evidence of human to human transmission’.
January 16 2020: A man in Tokyo is confirmed to have tested positive for the disease after travelling to the Chinese city of Wuhan.
A second death, a 69-year-old man, was reported by officials at Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. He died in the early hours of January 15 at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan city having first been admitted to hospital on December 31.
January 17 2020: Thailand announces it has detected a second case. The 74-year-old woman had been quarantined since her arrival on Monday. She lived in Wuhan.
It said the new cases in China were the result of ‘increased searching and testing for (the virus) among people sick with respiratory illness’.