A maths teacher from Buckinghamshire who lives and works in Wuhan, China – ground zero for the coronavirus – fears he may be spreading the virus in the UK.
David Marland, 34, returned to the UK to visit relatives in West Wycombe on 17 January and immediately called the NHS 111 helpline, expecting to be asked in for testing – especially because there has been a confirmed case of the virus in the apartment block that he lives in.
Instead the specialist simply asked him if he had “the sniffles”. When he said he didn't he was told only to call back if he started to feel unwell.
Mr Marland told the Telegraph:
“I knew I had to call the NHS as soon as I got back to the UK, and a specialist called me back. They asked if I had the sniffles. I said no, and they said ‘If you start having any sniffles, or any of your family do, then please call us back.’
“It was like they were just ticking boxes. It feels like they are leaving the door open to this thing. I don't understand why they haven’t tested me, just to be on the safe side. I need to be checked out properly.”
Mr Marland has since learnt that Chinese officials believe that carriers of Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) can spread the disease for two weeks without displaying any symptoms.
Now he is worried he has received the wrong advice from the NHS.
Mr Marland said:
“I’m potentially a risk to other people.
“I’m still within the two week period so I could be spreading the disease everywhere without having any symptoms.”
The maths teacher, who arrived back in the UK via Gatwick Airport, lives just around the corner from the seafood market in Wuhan suspected to be the source of the outbreak and walks through it almost every day.
The virus, which causes severe acute respiratory infection and for which there is no specific cure or vaccine, has claimed 106 lives in China at the time of writing and has already spread to 16 other countries. There are currently no known cases in the UK.
“Maybe I should be staying away from people, but no one has told me to,” Mr Marland said to the Telegraph.
“They haven’t given me any advice at all. I’m just getting on with my life - what else am I supposed to do?”
The NHS website gives the following advice to people travelling to the UK from Wuhan, China:
“If you have travelled to Wuhan City in China in the last 2 weeks and feel unwell, call NHS 111 for advice and stay indoors. Do not go straight to a doctor's surgery or hospital.”