The Mail on Sunday can reveal that environmental consultant Bob Saynor, 48, and his nine-year-old son have been named locally as being at the centre of the outbreak.
The father and son were being treated in hospital in France last night, along with three other Britons from another family who were staying in the Saynors’ six-bedroom ski chalet.
Bob Saynor, 48, (pictured) and his nine-year-old son have been named locally as being at the centre of the outbreak
Mr Saynor’s two other children and four Britons from the other family were being kept in isolation in French hospitals as a precaution.
Stunned locals in the sleepy village of Les Contamines-Montjoie, near Megeve, expressed shock after medics airlifted the families out of the isolated resort on Friday afternoon.
A friend of the family, Louise Gasparelli, said Mr Saynor and his wife Catriona, a doctor, had moved from Brighton to live permanently in the chalet three years ago.
French health minister Agnes Buzyn last night said it was believed that all five coronavirus cases were linked to a British man who had stayed there following a business trip to Singapore, where he had contracted the virus.
A friend of the family, Louise Gasparelli, said Mr Saynor and his wife Catriona (pictured), a doctor, had moved from Brighton to live permanently in the chalet three years ago
The alarm was raised in the Alps on Friday when people staying at the Saynor family’s large chalet (pictured) began to fall ill
The middle-aged British man – also from Brighton – flew back to the UK where he fell ill and alerted the NHS. He was being treated in St Thomas’s Hospital in London last night.
The dramatic development in the Alps came as:
- A school pupil from Brighton was told by Public Health England to ‘self-isolate’ for 14 days;
- A British family of four who live in Majorca are waiting to hear if they have the virus;
- The global death toll from coronavirus is today expected to exceed the 774 people killed by SARS in 2002 and 2003;
- China launched a crackdown, rounding up those suspected of having the virus and putting them in quarantine;
- A jet commissioned by the Foreign Office to bring back more than 200 Britons from virus-hit Wuhan is due to arrive today.
The alarm was raised in the Alps on Friday when people staying at the Saynor family’s large chalet began to fall ill.
According to Le Figaro, Agnès Buzyn (pictured) the infected British man stayed in a chalet in Contamines-Montjoie, in Haute-Savoie between the 24 and 28 January
The UK patient who arrived in France from Singapore on January 24 had been attending a business conference at a £1,000-a-night hotel in the Asian country
A locator map shows the Contamines-Montjoie ski resort in the French alps
Chris Hopkinson, who lives in Les Contamines-Montjoie, said a helicopter and several ambulances descended on the village and took the affected Britons away.
Coronavirus could be spread through DIARRHOEA, experts warn
Coronavirus could be spread through diarrhoea, according to a new study.
As of Saturday more than 700 people have been killed by the virus, with 86 people dying on Friday alone.
More than 34,500 globally have been infected.
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it extremely contagious.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Now, researchers have said that studies mostly looked at patients with symptoms relating the respiratory system, The Sun reports.
Because of this, experts could have skimmed over symptoms related to the digestive tract, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Out of 138 patients in a Wuhan hospital, 14 had diarrhoea and nausea before they got a fever and had laboured breathing.
The first US patient diagnosed with coronavirus had diarrhoea for two days and the virus was later found in his faeces.
He described the ski resort at the foot of Mount Blanc as ‘just about the last place you could imagine the virus to reach’. Village mayor Jean-Marc Peillex said two schools had been closed as a precaution. Because it is the height of the ski season, the resort is full.
Two of the apartments in the resort were being examined, health officials said, adding that no other people in the village had been affected by the outbreak.
In Brighton, a pupil at Portslade Aldridge Community Academy – who is thought to be related to the initial Singapore case – was told to self-isolate as part of the PHE’s investigation. The school said it had been told there was no need for it to close.
In Majorca, a 46-year-old father was quarantined in the island’s main hospital, Son Espases, after he came into contact with a coronavirus sufferer.
His wife and their two daughters, aged seven and ten, were later admitted to the same hospital. All four family members were undergoing tests to see if they had contracted the killer virus.
The ten-year-old tested positive for a common strain of flu but none of the other three family members is said to be showing any signs of ill health.
The father, who lives in Marratxi, close to the island capital of Palma, went to the hospital on Thursday and told medics he had been in contact with a person who had tested positive for the virus in France.
He was in France between January 25 and 29 before returning to Majorca by plane. The identity of the person he came into contact with has not been revealed.
Health officials told a press conference in Spain yesterday morning that only the father had contact with the confirmed French case. His wife and children were admitted to be quarantined.
Six other UK nationals who had come into close contact with them at the resort were also taken to hospital last night in Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble.
‘They were all staying in a chalet in Contamines-Montjoie when some complained of feeling unwell,’ said a health ministry source in Paris of the five new patients.
A graphic shows countries affected with the coronavirus as of 11.23am (GMT) on 8 February
‘The 11 are now in isolation in three hospitals in the Haute Savoie region, with care and tests ongoing. Five have the Coronavirus, including a child.’
The mayor of Contamines-Montjoie revealed three of the children being probed -including the confirmed case – attend the same school, which will remain shut next week.
The UK patient who arrived in France from Singapore on January 24 had been attending a business conference at a £1,000-a-night hotel in the Asian country.
The gathering at the luxury-laced Grand Hyatt comprised more than 100 people and has been linked to the spread of coronavirus in at least three other states.
There is now a manhunt underway to find the other campus attendees in case they spread the infection.
On return to the UK, the British man suffered flu-like symptoms and took himself to A&E at the Royal Sussex in Brighton on Sunday, February 1.
The anonymous victim was then whisked 55 miles to a specialist infectious diseases unit at Guy’s Hospital in London yesterday, where he will remain in isolation for at least two weeks.
Jean-Yves Grall, the head of the regional health authority, said the child’s mother ‘was in Britain taking exams’ at the time of the contamination.
Mr Grall said the infected child had attended school in Contamines-Montjoie and also spent a day at a second school in the nearby town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.
Mayor and Departmental Councilor of Mont-Blanc Jean-Marc Peillex wrote in a statement: ‘To avoid unnecessary interpretation and panic, the English student who was infected […] took a French class with four other students on Thursday morning.
‘I learned that as a caution the first minister had decided to close the schools in Contamines and Saint-Gervais.’
Etienne Jacquet, the mayor of Contamines-Montjoie, said: ‘I was called by the regional health agency at 12.30am on Saturday about two British families. Seven were in one chalet and four in another. Of the 11 people, five have tested positive for the coronavirus.’
‘Their clinical condition shows no sign of seriousness,’ said the minister, who added that the French authorities were trying to contact family of the British national.
Buzyn said the group of newly-infected people with the virus formed ‘a cluster, a grouping around one original case.’
The results of their tests will be analysed at a lab in Madrid, with health officials expecting results within 24 to 48 hours.
Spanish officials have said the passengers who were on the plane the British father took from France to Majorca will be contacted only if he tests positive for coronavirus.
Five Britons diagnosed with coronavirus in a French ski chalet (pictured) caught the killer infection from a Brighton man who stayed at the same resort
Briton Alan Steele, pictured with his new wife Wendy, was taken off the Diamond Princess cruise liner yesterday and sent to hospital after testing positive for the virus
‘That original case was brought to our attention last night, it is a British national who had returned from Singapore where he had stayed between January 20 and 23, and he arrived in France on January 24 for four days,’ Buzyn said, adding that the latest outbreak had occurred in the mountainous region of Savoie in eastern France
Singapore’s use as a transport hub in south-east Asia means it could be a contaminating zone for the virus.
‘We may well find further international cases that have travelled through Singapore,’ Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, told the MailOnline.
‘This cluster of cases in France illustrates how the coronavirus can spread to countries indirectly of China.
‘The French ski resort will have citizens from numerous other countries there, so there are implications for potential onward transmission.
‘Hopefully further people will not also have been exposed and infected, and this specific localised outbreak can be immediately contained.’
According to the French health ministry, a crisis unit has been set up and people who have been in close and prolonged contact with these new cases will be informed during the day and given specific instructions.
The confirmed cases in France came as a British honeymooner transferred from the cruise liner Diamond Princess to hospital in Japan with the coronavirus was said to be feeling well and in good spirits.
Mrs Marshall Steele said she was also well but had ‘cabin fever’ as she continued to be confined to her room on the ship, a status shared with nearly 3,700 other passengers and crew.
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly
‘It was a hard first night without Alan. But hey, we are constantly in touch. Japanese doctors are excellent and he is in safe hands,’ she wrote.
A total of 78 British passport holders – including crew – were among those who boarded the ship, sources said.
The ship’s operator, Princess Cruises, said the vessel’s quarantine was due to end on February 19, barring ‘unforeseen developments’, and confirmed all affected guests were being taken to hospitals.
The total number of people infected with the virus in France has now reached 11.
The six others include one man in a serious condition, while the others have shown signs of improvement in recent days, according to medical officials.
On Sunday, 40 French people are to be repatriated from China, where more than 700 people have been killed by the virus, and 34,000 cases have been detected.
Dire coronavirus warnings from Britain’s top experts
Leading virologists and infectious disease specialists met at a hastily organised meeting by the respected Science Media Centre in London on Friday amid the escalating outbreak.
They made a series of dire warnings about the disease, including:
- A vaccine will not be ready until at least 2021
- Even if we eradicate the virus in the next few months it could re-emerge in winter
- An outbreak in late 2020 could be devastating for NHS staff juggling winter crisis
- The death of a seemingly healthy Chinese doctor in his 30s raises fears it may have ability to kill people with strong immune systems
- Don’t be fooled by a decrease in confirmed cases in the last few days – this could be a lack of man power and errors in cataloging them in China
- The virus may be spread to babies from pregnant mothers during childbirth
- Cases are at least 10 times higher than the current 31,000 being reported
The first cases of Coronavirus arrived in France at the end of January, among ill people recently arrived from China.
Public health officials around the world are trying to contain the new virus that first appeared in the seafood market at Wuhan, China, at the start of December.
Coronaviruses are common in animals of all kinds, and sometimes can evolve into forms that can infect humans.
A 747 charted by the Foreign Office left Wuhan last night carrying more than 200 Britons and dependants, on a direct flight to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. They will then be sent by coach to Kents Hill Park, a conference centre in Milton Keynes, where they will be kept in quarantine for two weeks.
In Japan, British honeymooner Alan Steel – who caught the virus on board the cruise liner Diamond Princess – was transferred to hospital. His wife Wendy posted on Facebook: ‘Alan is well, Japanese doctors are excellent.’
Coronavirus has a 14-day incubation period where a patient may not display symptoms but can still infect others by coughs and sneezes. It has infected 34,974 people worldwide and killed 724.
Medical workers in protective suits are seen talking while at the Wuhan Parlor Convention Center on Friday. Wuhan has around 14 million residents, but it remains unknown how many people would be quarantined or where they will be kept
China has demanded four types of people in Wuhan to be put into mandatory isolation in quarantine stations: confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever. Pictured, patients rest at a makeshift hospital in Wuhan
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE THREE CORONAVIRUS CASES IN THE UK?
THE FIRST TWO CASES
A University of York student and his mother became the first two confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus on British soil when they were diagnosed on January 31. But neither have been named.
Health officials repeatedly refused to give any details about the two cases, citing ‘patient confidentially’, and knocked back questions about where and when they entered Britain.
But MailOnline later that same day revealed the pair had stayed at a budget hotel in York.
Sources at the Staycity apart-hotel said the pair – who had been whisked away by paramedics on January 31 – never returned or collected their suitcases, clothing or toiletries.
It is thought their toiletries remain sealed in their room. Officials have already paid for a sterilisation company to disinfect the room the pair stayed in, as well as surrounding ones. It is not clear if they are open again but the £49-a-night hotel is still operating.
Sources then confirmed that both the infected patients had been whisked off to quarantine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, one of four specialist centres in the UK set-up to treat contagious airborne infections. The patients are still there being treated.
The University of York confirmed one of the patients was a student on February 1. In hope of quashing fears, it said the infected student had not stepped foot on campus before or after he caught the virus. It was later revealed that the second patient was his mother.
THE THIRD CASE
The patient is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and whisked off to a specialist infectious diseases unit at a London hospital, where they will be kept in isolation for at least two weeks.
Only four hospitals in England are equipped with these wards, two of which are in the capital – the Royal Free and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The others are in Newcastle and Liverpool.
Public Health England said the patient did not catch the highly contagious disease in the UK, suggesting they had recently flown back from China. Officials have so far refused to offer any more details about the patient.
But there has been no flights into the UK from Wuhan since January 22, when Chinese authorities made the unprecedented decision to put the city into lockdown and ground all flights to fight the outbreak.
London Gatwick, the closest airport to Brighton – just 27 miles north of the seaside city, has direct flights from Shanghai, another Chinese city that has recorded cases of the killer virus.