UK virus ‘super-spreader’ says he has recovered

An undated handout picture released by Servomex in London on February 11, 2020, shows Briton Steve Walsh, who is confirmed to have contracted the 2019-nCoV strain of coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 11 February 2020

UK virus ‘super-spreader’ says he has recovered

  • Steve Walsh said he contacted Britain’s state-run national health service once he realized he might be sick

LONDON: A British businessman who became known as a “super-spreader” of the COVID-19 coronavirus said Tuesday he had fully recovered but remained in isolation in a central London hospital.
Steve Walsh issued a statement via his company from Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital after catching the virus on a business trip in Singapore.
He is believed to have infected at least 11 other Britons — five in a ski chalet in the French Alps and another five who have since returned to his home city of Brighton on England’s southeast coast.
Another person was diagnosed while on vacation in Spain.
Walsh said he contacted Britain’s state-run national health service once he realized he might be sick.
“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,” the 53-year-old said.
“I was advised to attend an isolated room at hospital, despite showing no symptoms, and subsequently self-isolated at home as instructed,” he added.
“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.”
Walsh represented his Servomex natural gas analytics company at the Grand Hyatt Singapore sales conference on January 20-22.
A firm that conducts Servomex’s consulting work described Steve as a genial boyscout leader who has two children and travels abroad frequently for work.
Servomex is a division of the London Stock Exchange-listed Spectris high-tech instruments and software provider.
UK health authorities have so far tested 1,358 people and recorded eight cases inside the country.
The media’s focus on the “super-spreader” from Brighton intensified after one of the medical centers in the coastal city temporarily closed because two of its staff also became infected.
A second branch of the same medical center suspended operations on Tuesday.
Walsh traveled to the French Alps before returning to London from Geneva on an EasyJet flight carrying more than 100 people.
His associates said Walsh went to his local pub in Brighton and attended a group yoga session at his church after returning from his trip.
He put himself in “self-isolation” after one of his colleagues abroad fell ill.
A Servomex spokesman said the company remained opened and was working with “authorities to ensure the welfare of our staff.”
Health officials in Brighton are currently trying to trace patients of the two health care workers diagnosed with the virus strain.
UK health authorities have tried hard to calm any fears sparked by a barrage of media stories about a “super-spreader” infecting the public without anyone’s knowledge.
“Contact tracing of the first four cases has been undertaken rapidly and is now complete while tracing for the latest four cases is ongoing,” health minister Matt Hancock told parliament.
Hancock revealed that UK health authorities’ work helped to find the five Britons who are still isolated in France.
“They are now receiving treatment and the Foreign Office is following up with consular support,” Hancock said.
But some medical researchers said Walsh’s case pointed to a bigger problem: the possibility that the virus can spread from someone who exhibits no symptoms.
The episode “may support that the virus can be shed from individuals prior to the onset of symptoms, which we are hearing more and more anecdotally,” said University of Leeds virus researcher Stephen Griffin.
“This would make the problem of containing spread more like controlling a flu outbreak rather than what was experienced with SARS,” Griffin said.
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was another coronavirus that originated in China and killed 774 worldwide in 2002-03.


East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

Commuters wearing protective face masks amid fears of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus ride an elevated train in Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 26 February 2020

East China cities quarantine arrivals as virus spreads in S. Korea, Japan

  • South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo

BEIJING: The eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is imposing a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals, state media reported on Tuesday, as China moves to address the threat of a rise in coronavirus cases in neighboring South Korea and nearby Japan.
People with suspected virus symptoms arriving in Qingdao, a major Northeast Asian transport hub in Shandong province, should be isolated in designated hospitals, while others are required to stay at their residences or designated hotels, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The rule came into force on Monday, Xinhua added, citing a local government statement.
“Apparently 100,000 South Koreans live in Qingdao, and there are normally over 300 flights a week between Seoul and Qingdao,” Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University, said on Twitter. “This is likely to be disruptive to both economies.”
Another Shandong city, Weihai, said it would quarantine arrivals from Japan and South Korea from Tuesday — the first country-specific compulsory quarantine requirement by China, which has criticized travel restrictions implemented by other countries.
The measures comes as the virus, which started in China’s Hubei province, takes hold beyond the country.
South Korea has reported 10 deaths and almost 1,000 infections, while Japan has 159 confirmed cases, not including 691 on a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.
Weihai is also home to a sizeable Korean expatriate community. It lies near the eastern tip of the Shandong peninsula across the Yellow Sea from South Korea, and its quarantine rules apply both to Chinese and foreign nationals arriving in the city.
They will be put up in hotels free of charge for a 14-day quarantine period, according to a notice on the city’s official Wechat account.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Qingdao imposes 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

● Shandong city Weihai singles out S. Korea, Japan arrivals.

● S. Korea has almost 1,000 cases; Japan cases up.

People who arrived in Weihai from South Korea or Japan from Feb. 10 onwards have already been contacted by the Weihai government, the statement said, adding it had “appropriately handled” cases of fever.
The government of a third Shandong port city, Yantai, on Tuesday said all business travelers and short-term visitors should stay in designated hotels.
Further north in China’s Liaoning province, the city of Liaoning — home to both North Korean and South Korean communities — is tightening screening of inbound passengers and will check the temperature of all arrivals, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Sweden’s health agency said it would not introduce airport controls that take up resources but are “ineffective” because infected people may not show symptoms.
Ukraine International Airlines onboard personnel will wear rubber gloves and masks on flights from Italy.
Meanwhile, the drugmaker Moderna has shipped a potential coronavirus vaccine for humans to government researchers for testing.
Shares of the biotech company soared, a day after the company said it sent vials to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for early-stage testing in the US.