A UK resident who contracted a Sars-like virus has died in hospital, medical officials confirmed yesterday.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) said the patient, who was being treated for novel coronavirus, had died in its critical care unit on Sunday.
In a statement, the QEHB said the patient was believed to have contracted the virus from a relative who is being treated at a hospital in Manchester.
The statement, issued by the NHS trust which runs the QEHB, added: “The hospital extends its sympathies to the family.
“The patient was already an outpatient at QEHB, undergoing treatment for a long-term, complex, unrelated health condition.
“The patient was immuno-compromised and is believed to have contracted the virus from a relative who is being treated for the condition in a Manchester hospital.”
The QEHB said last week that the coronavirus patient’s admission had been subject to stringent infection controls.
The hospital is now working closely with the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which is making follow-up checks on other household members.
Health protection workers have established that the person being treated in Manchester recently travelled to the Middle East and Pakistan.
In a statement issued on Friday, the HPA confirmed that four cases of novel coronavirus – including three “in a family cluster” – had been diagnosed in the UK.
Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: “If novel coronavirus were more infectious, we would have expected to have seen a larger number of cases than we have seen since the first case was reported three months ago.
“We would like to emphasise that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low.”
A statement issued yesterday by the HPA said the man who died and another of the UK cases had no recent history of foreign travel, suggesting that transmission had occurred in Britain.
An HPA spokesman said: “One person has sadly died. This patient had an underlying condition that may have made them more susceptible to respiratory infections.
“The first patient in this cluster, who had recent travel history to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, is still receiving treatment.
“The third case, who had a mild illness, has recovered.”
Since September 2012, when an earlier case of novel coronavirus was diagnosed in the UK, there have been 12 confirmed cases globally, with six deaths.