A GP in Surrey is being taken to one of the NHS’s six specialist centres for infectious diseases amid fears he is the latest British case of coronavirus, the Guardian has been told.
The development is understood to have triggered an urgent investigation to see if any of his patients have the coronavirus too.
The case – which would be the 20th to emerge in the UK – has prompted particular concern among health officials trying to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The GP would routinely have seen scores of patients over the course of the last week before he became ill in the last 24 hours.
His diagnosis has yet to be publicly confirmed by Public Health England (PHE), NHS England or the Department of Health and Social Care.
Public health chiefs are also worried by the unnamed doctor’s diagnosis because his wife is also a GP.
PHE is “contact tracing” everyone with whom either of the couple has been in contact – including all patients they have seen – so they can also be tested for evidence of the virus.
That exercise involves scores of patients as the couple are understood to have been working normally for several days before he was identified as a carrier of the virus.
It is not yet known if his wife has also contracted the virus, which for the first time has claimed the life of a Briton – a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise liner. .
Public health officials looking into the GP’s case have not yet established how he might have caught the virus but he has not recently visited any of the places abroad where there have been recent outbreaks, such as northern Italy, Tenerife, Iran and China.
Contact tracing of his patients is likely to look into whether anyone he has seen in recent days has been to any of those destinations.
If confirmed, he would be the second GP to contract coronavirus among what is now 20 confirmed cases in the UK. The first, a family doctor in Brighton, and a member of staff at Worthing hospital, also in Sussex, were among the first cases to be identified in Britain earlier this month.
The number of confirmed cases in the UK had jumped from 13 to 19 in the last 24 hours, with four emerging in England and one each in Wales and Northern Ireland. The lated case would bring that total to 20.