A GRANDFATHER who become the second UK patient to die after testing positive for coronavirus had returned from a foreign cruise just days before his death.
The 88-year-old passed away in Milton Keynes Hopsital yesterday after being admitted with pneumonia on March 3.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the pensioner as "somebody older" who had "underlying health conditions".
It is understood the pensioner had visited several countries on the cruise and officials are now scrambling to contact others he had been in contact with.
They added that his relatives were made "to wear suits in order to visit him" and have now been told to self-isolate along with some members of medical staff.
The family were reportedly informed last night via phone call from the hospital that he tested positive and he died an hour later.
They have now raised fears the hospital was too slow to spot the granddad had coronavirus and move him into isolation.
One told the Guardian: "Our concern is that the hospital were too slow to detect that our relative had symptoms similar to those of coronavirus and too slow to move him from a ward into isolation, and that that may have put a lot of people – fellow patients on the ward, staff who were looking after him and visitors who came to see him – at risk of contracting the virus from him.
“We think they should have put him into isolation right away, as soon as he arrived, given his symptoms. That was a failure by the hospital. He was coughing a lot and had quite severe symptoms.
“Despite that, he was put on a ward with lots of other sick patients for six or seven hours before he was moved into isolation. During that time a lot of relatives came to see him, both adults and children. Who knows if any of them have now got coronavirus and are maybe spreading it to older people who might get sick?"
OUTBREAK TAKING HOLD
Mr Hancock told ITV: "I am very sorry to hear the news of a second death here in the UK of somebody with coronavirus.
"My condolences go out to the family and to his loved ones."
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: "I am very sorry to report a second patient in England who tested positive Covid-19 has sadly died.
"I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is requested.
"The patient, who was being treated at the Milton Keynes University Hospital, was an older patient who had underlying health conditions. Contact tracing is already underway."
Do you know the patient? Please phone +44 (0) 20 7782 4368 or email [email protected]
Sir Patrick Vallance, 59, warned the killer disease is now exploding around the country and is easily passing from person to person.
Up until now most cases were in clusters around people who had travelled back to the UK from aboard.
However, now – with the rate of cases rocketing – the outbreak from person to person in communities has taken hold.
The Department of Health confirmed the bug is spreading at its fastest rate yet as a total of 47 people tested positive in the last 24 hours.
Dr Richard Hatchett, who heads up the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said the government needs to adopt an 'aggressive' response to tackle the virus.
He said: "This is the most frightening disease I've ever encountered in my career, and that includes Ebola, it includes MERS and it includes SARS.
'I think the most concerning thing about this virus is the combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause severe disease or death."
The chilling development means the Government's battle plan will inevitably reach the "delay stage" – meaning large scale events such as the London Marathon may be cancelled.
Children will also be allowed to complete schoolwork from home and one in five workers could be forced to stay away from the office.
Sir Patrick, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, told Sky News: "This is a global epidemic and we would expect to see more cases in the UK.
"This is the start of an outbreak clearly. We are in the position now where we have got person-to-person transmission of this in the UK and therefore we can expect more cases.
"This is now outbreaks in the community where we have got some individuals that we don’t know where it has come from.
"That tells you that something is circulating, we are definitely in that phase."
Another medical expert has also warned Brits can now catch coronavirus “from anyone, anywhere, anytime” — and admitted we have lost track of who has it.
A surge in cases not linked to trips abroad, or contact with known carriers, means the bug is now spreading from person to person within the UK.
Dr Bharat Pankhankia, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, said: “The implication is we are now in the phase of ‘community transmission’.
“We no longer know where the virus is. You could catch it from anyone, anywhere, anytime — in your supermarket, coffee shop, petrol station or pub.”
'ANYONE, ANYWHERE, AYTIME'
Dr Pankhankia added: “Preventative measures, such as handwashing and catching sneezes, are more important than ever.
“This is serious and not a joke. You have no idea how an individual may react if they catch it, so do not take risks.”
A 75-year-old British woman became the first patient to die in the UK after testing positive for the disease.
Health chiefs said the woman had been suffering underlying health conditions and was 'in and out of hospital' before passing away at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.
More than 20,000 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK.
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