Coronavirus was 'widely dispersed' across UK in January, says leading scientist
The coronavirus outbreak appears to have been ‘widely dispersed’ across the UK in January, one of the scientists leading a study into the prevalence of the virus has claimed.
Helen Ward, from Imperial College London, said Covid-19 was ‘spread out’ across the country at the beginning of the year – despite officials only catching the first case in late January.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning, the British physician said: ‘What was interesting (about the study) is that we can tell from people who reported not only having a positive test, but we also asked about their symptoms so we can actually track for most people – the 70% of people who reported symptoms – when they think they were infected.
‘And it did start in January, February, and actually it started right across the country, so you can’t say that it started in London and spread out. Right from the beginning, it was widely dispersed.’
The first known coronavirus case in the country was on January 29, when two Chinese nationals fell ill at the Staycity Aparthotel in York.
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On February 6, a British businessman in Brighton was diagnosed with the virus after catching it in Singapore.
The so-called ‘super spreader’ was later linked to 11 other cases, five of which were in Britain.
On February 28, the first domestic case was confirmed to be a Surrey man who had not been abroad.
The first patient to die with Covid-19 was recorded on March 5 – when it was believed there were only 90 cases in the UK.
Several other scientists have also said they believe the pandemic hit the UK earlier than originally thought.
Major analysis has also quashed the theory that a single ‘patient zero’ sparked the outbreak, with experts saying in June the virus entered the country on 1,356 separate occasions at the beginning of the crisis.
It comes as it is revealed the government is searching for a ‘Head of Pandemic Preparedness’ to help ‘learn the lessons’ of the crisis.
Internal applicants for the newly created £61,000 job will be interviewed by the Department of Health in the first two weeks of December.
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