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Hunt for coronavirus victims as trail leads from Singapore to UK and France

  • Coronavirus: Five Brits in French ski chalet catch virus
    Infected Briton flew from conference in Asia to Alps and then returned to UK. Coronavirus: Five Brits in French ski chalet catch virus
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Infected Briton flew from conference in Asia to Alps and then returned to UK. The conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Singapore, held earlier in January, is believed to have been attended by 15 people from Singapore and 94 foreigners, and hosted by a multinational company.

An international manhunt is under way to trace more than 100 people who were at a business conference in Singapore where the British national who infected five others at a French ski resort is believed to have contracted the coronavirus.

French officials said the British national – reported to be a middle-aged man from Brighton – arrived in the resort of Contamines-Montjoie, near Mont Blanc, on 24 January and returned to England on 28 January.

The conference at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Singapore, held earlier in January, is believed to have been attended by 15 people from Singapore and 94 foreigners, and hosted by a multinational company. The Singaporean evening daily paper Lianhe Wanbao named the company as UK firm Servomex, a global gas analysis company with offices in Europe and Asia.

Malaysian health authorities first revealed the virus’s link to the conference when they confirmed the case of a 41-year-old Malaysian who had attended it alongside colleagues from China, according to the New Straits Times.

South Korea has confirmed that two of its nationals who attended the conference also have the virus. The Koreans and the Malaysian shared a buffet meal during the conference, South Korean media reported. Of the 15 Singaporean attendees, four have been referred to its National Centre for Infectious Diseases, the country’s health ministry confirmed.

On Saturday night the final UK evacuation flight left Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak,the Foreign Office said.

The plane, which was carrying more than 200 passengers including British government staff and military medics, is expected to arrive at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire at around 5.30am.

South Central ambulance service said Kents Hill Park, a conference centre and hotel in Milton Keynes, will be used to house the returnees and they will remain there in isolation for 14 days.

The ambulance service said the presence of the group in Milton Keynes does not present a risk to local people.

Everyone boarding the plane in Wuhan will be assessed and will continue to be monitored after landing in the UK. Anyone displaying symptoms would not have been permitted to board the plane.

If any develops symptoms on the flight they will be taken to a separate cabin on the plane, and those who display symptoms on landing will be transferred to an NHS hospital.

The World Health Organization is investigating the outbreak. “WHO is coordinating with relevant ministries of health in relation to it,” a WHO spokeswoman said. “As countries are stepping up surveillance, the detection of more cases of local transmission can be expected.”

The BBC reported that, upon his return to the UK, the infected British businessman isolated himself at his home and called NHS 111. After a positive test, he was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in London where he is being treated.

Prof Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director, told the Brighton Argus: “This patient did the right thing when they had concerns about coronavirus by calling NHS 111 for advice. After a telephone assessment, they were advised to make their way to Royal Sussex County hospital Brighton for testing. Following a pre-arranged plan with the NHS, they drove themselves to the hospital, were tested in isolation and away from public areas of the hospital, and returned home in isolation in their own car.”

The Guardian