Desperate appeal launched as 'first Brit to contract Coronavirus' fights for life

20 January 2020, 14:26

Ashley Shorley is feared to be the first Brit to contract coronavirus
Ashley Shorley is feared to be the first Brit to contract coronavirus. Picture: Instagram

By Matt Drake

A man who is feared to be the British person to contract the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping Asia is fighting for his life in Bangkok as his family desperately appeals for help.

Ashley Shorley, 32, from Thornton, West Yorkshire, travelled to Thailand after selling his house, following the breakdown of a long-term relationship in December.

But after just one week of travelling, Mr Shorley contracted a virus on December 27 and his condition quickly deteriorated, the Blackpool Gazette reports.

He had pneumonia and two collapsed lungs and was sent by air ambulance from Phuket to another hospital in Bangkok on January 6.

The coronavirus has killed three people and infected around 200 so far
The coronavirus has killed three people and infected around 200 so far. Picture: PA

After an operation, he has since been taken off oxygen and doctors believe it was a success.

But he has a long road to recovery and a Gofundme page has been set up to help Mr Shorley's family - who abandoned a holiday in Spain to rush to his bedside.

The deadly virus is sweeping Asia
The deadly virus is sweeping Asia. Picture: PA

The page, set up by Tracey Marie, reads: "Ashley travelled to Thailand for a break and has ended up very poorly in hospital with a flu virus that has resulted in a collapsed lung and the possible need for an operation to remove the infected part of the lungs.

"Although he has insurance it won't cover most of the costs for him or his family while they are over there with him.

"Please dig deep and help him and his parents while they are stuck in Thailand until he is well enough to bring home."

The new Chinese Coronavirus appeared in Wuhan city in December and is believed to have killed three people so far.

There have been nearly 200 confirmed cases of the new virus but UK experts estimate a figure nearer 1,700.

Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses but only seven, including the recent one, are known to infect people.

At the mild end of the spectrum, symptoms are similar to the common cold. But severe symptoms include acute respiratory syndrome.

The new cases include two in the capital Beijing and one in Shenzhen, authorities said.

It comes as China prepares for its busiest travel period, as millions board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Health authorities in the city of Wuhan, where the viral pneumonia appears to have originated, said an additional 136 cases have been confirmed in the city, which now has a total of 198 infected patients.

Authorities in Thailand and in Japan have already identified at least three cases, all involving recent travel from China.

Many of the initial cases had connections to a seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed for an investigation.

As hundreds of people who came into close contact with diagnosed patients were not infected themselves, the municipal health commission maintains that the virus is not easily transmitted between humans, though it has not ruled out limited human-to-human transmission.

China's National Health Commission said experts have judged the current outbreak to be "preventable and controllable".

"However, the source of the new type of coronavirus has not been found, we do not fully understand how the virus is transmitted, and changes in the virus still need to be closely monitored," the commission said on Sunday.

The Chinese government is keen to avoid a repeat of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, another coronavirus that started in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people.

Anyone wishing to donate to Mr Shorley's Gofundme page can go here to make a donation.