Coronavirus fears as medic in hazmat suit seen escorting patient in Birmingham

28 January 2020, 14:27

A 39-year-old man is being tested for coronavirus in Birmingham
A 39-year-old man is being tested for coronavirus in Birmingham. Picture: @mollieluneBCFC
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

There are fears the coronavirus has entered the UK after medics in hazmat suits were seen dealing with a patient in Birmingham.

A video taken by a concerned resident shows one medic wearing a full body suit entering an ambulance flanked by two other people wearing face masks.

39-year-old Drew Bennett was being taken for tests, according to Birmingham Live.

Mr Bennett reported he had recently returned from China and was suffering from flu-like symptoms, when an ambulance rushed to his home.

"Once I got back I was really ill with, what I thought, was a bad case of the flu. At that stage coronavirus hadn't really been mentioned so I thought nothing of it," he told local reporters.

"However, when I went to the GP on Monday and he asked as a precaution if I had been to China, he seemed really concerned."

The patient remains in isolation while awaiting urgent blood test results.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have confirmed that as of 28 January, 97 people have been tested and 0 people have been confirmed as positive.

West Midlands Ambulance Service declined to comment on the video and the DHSC said they don't comment on individual cases.

It comes as British citizens stranded in Wuhan were urged to contact the British consulate as part of repatriation plans.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the government is developing a plan to bring people home from the Chinese city.

The British embassy in Beijing said transport to get UK citizens out "may happen quickly and with short notice".

Officials estimate up to 200 citizens currently there will want to return to the UK and Public Health England continue to search for around 2,000 recent arrivals to the UK from China who may be at risk.

Meanwhile, the UK expert developing a vaccine against coronavirus says it has a "very good chance" of being effective.

Professor Robin Shattock, head of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial College London, said he plans to start testing the vaccine on animals by the middle of February, with human studies in the summer if enough funding is secured.

Prof Shattock said there could be a second wave of coronavirus next winter across the globe - when the vaccine could be ready.

He said: "Obviously, it would be great if it's all died off by the end of this spring but we still have to be cautious in case of a worst-case scenario, where there is a second wave globally next winter.

"If that was the size of what's happening in Wuhan, it would cripple the NHS in the UK.

"That's a worst-case scenario."

The first human-to-human transmission of the virus in Europe was confirmed in Germany on Tuesday, sparking huge efforts to contain the outbreak in the continent.

Chinese cities remain on lockdown as 106 people are confirmed dead from the coronavirus
Chinese cities remain on lockdown as 106 people are confirmed dead from the coronavirus. Picture: PA Images

Chinese officials confirmed on Wednesday 106 people have died in the country as Hubei province remains on lockdown, with residents unable to use public transport and tourist attractions being shut indefinitely while the virus is contained.

Hong Kong also said on Tuesday it would "temporarily" close some of its borders with mainland China and stop issuing travel permits to mainland Chinese tourists.

In Thailand, the country with the highest number of confirmed infections outside China, anger with the government is increasing as citizens worry the outbreak cannot be contained.