An art director from London may be the UK’s coronavirus “patient zero”, with the woman saying she may have contracted the virus up to a month before any confirmed cases in the country.
Susannah Ford, 53, became unwell on January 6 just two days after she returned from a skiing holiday in Austria, according to The Sun.
After returning from a trip to the Obergurgl ski resort Ms Ford went to her home in West London via Gatwick Airport. She’d been travelling with her husband and two daughters.
In an interview with The Sunday Times she said her symptoms “felt like death”.
“I ached terribly in every muscle and joint for five days and was too groggy even to go to the Eliot prize for poetry.”
An antibody test revealed she had contracted COVID-19 at an earlier time, suggesting she could possibly be England’s “patient zero”.
Ms Ford was the only member of her family to become sick and she assumed she’d picked up the illness while on an earlier holiday in Trinidad.
Her doctor said tests revealed she’d been suffering a vitamin D deficiency — but after a few weeks, and more reports of the coronavirus, she decided to seek a second opinion.
She said she didn’t have a cough or fever but as more was reported of the virus she became certain she’d contracted it. Many cases of coronavirus in Europe were contracted by people on skiing holidays in Austria.
“We didn’t go to any clubs or discos, we ate in the hotel every night and were then safely tucked up in bed,” Ms Ford said.
“But I guess when you are skiing you touch lots of things — ski poles, lift buttons …”
She paid for an antibody test last week and it showed she had been infected with COVID-19. The test shows whether a person is carrying antibodies for the virus, indicating they may have had it at an earlier time.
Ms Ford feels sure she had the virus in January — however she is uncertain as the test does not specify a time period when a person was infected.
“I can’t prove it was then but I haven’t been ill since or come into contact with people with it,” she said.
The first confirmed case of coronavirus in the UK was on January 29, when two Chinese nationals became sick in York, in the country’s north east.
“I think the virus has been around in the UK a lot longer than the government and Sage (scientific advisory group for emergencies) have admitted,” said Angus Dalgleish, a professor of oncology at St George’s Hospital in London.
“That means all the inputs were wrong for modelling and shows a tremendous lack of understanding of what we are dealing with.”
The UK recently passed the grim milestone of more than 40,000 people being killed by coronavirus in the country.
The death toll now stands at 40,625. More than 287,000 people have been infected with the virus.