China Confirms Human-to-Human Transmission of Coronavirus as British Tourist Hospitalized in Thailand

Ashley Boucher
China Confirms Human-to-Human Transmission of Coronavirus as British Tourist Hospitalized in Thailand

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus are growing after a Chinese scientist confirmed on Monday it is now being transmitted from person-to-person.

Also on Monday, a British tourist became one of the first to be publicly identified as possibly suffering from the potentially deadly virus.

Ash Shorley, 32, was taken to the hospital in Phuket, Thailand, late last month for a pneumonia-like infection that doctors reportedly say includes symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, The Sun reported Monday.

“Ashley traveled 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,” a GoFundMe campaign set up for Shorley said. “Although he has insurance it won’t cover most of the costs for him or his family while they are over there with him.”

Shorley’s parents told The Sun that they are awaiting test results to see if he has indeed been infected by coronavirus.

Shorley’s continued hospitalization in Thailand comes as fears concerning the coronavirus grow.

“Now we can say it is certain that it is a human-to-human transmission phenomenon,” scientist Zhong Nanshan said on China’s state-run television Monday, The New York Times reported.

Ash Shorley | GoFundMe

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The mysterious virus has affected 205 people, including three deaths, the World Health Organization confirmed Sunday. All three deaths have been in Wuhan, China, where the virus is suspected to have originated and where the patients in most cases had been exposed to a market with live animals.

But in the past few days, multiple people have contracted the virus in cities far from Wuhan, including Beijing and Shenzhen, as well as South Korea and Thailand. All of the cases outside of Wuhan, however, had traveled through it, but not all of them had contact with animals or visited the markets.

It is not clear whether Shorley had traveled through Wuhan.

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Imperial College London public health expert Neil Ferguson told the NYT that “there are now sufficient cases that it’s not going to die out by chance. The real question now is, how efficiently can this virus spread from person-to-person?”

Authorities fear that the virus will only continue to spread, and more rapidly, as millions of people will be traveling throughout China this week to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday “to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage it,” the NYT reported.

Medical transfer in Wuhan, China | Getty

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The outbreak has prompted U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection to implement “enhanced health screenings” for travelers coming from Wuhan at San Francisco International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Los Angeles International Airport.

However, the CDC also said on Friday that the coronavirus has been deemed a low risk to the American public.