The patient was isolated immediately in St Thomas’ Hospital and no further transmission occurred. Since 2012 there have been five cases of MERS confirmed in England and they have caused no outbreaks. During this same period nearly 1,500 people suspected to have the infection were tested in UK laboratories.
This PHE experience of it shows the importance of strong infection control in hospitals, while other countries such as South Korea have suffered large MERS outbreaks when sub-standard infection control practices occurred in health facilities.
With all emerging infections there are many concerns, but two which particularly stand out are that health workers are at great risk of infection and that all humans are susceptible because they have not experienced previous infection that develops antibody protection.
Trial pandemic: Dr Hannah Fry
Last week, the first case of a patient being infected with Covid-19 within the UK was discovered in Haslemere, the small commuter town just off the A3. It was, to me especially, an eerie twist of fate: two years ago, Haslemere was at the heart of another pandemic, this time a fictional one I and a team of experts created as part of an experimental documentary.
The idea was simple. Using a newly-built app, we would ‘infect’ the good people of Haslemere, then track where they went and who they interacted with over the course of a day, allowing us to view how quickly a potentially deadly virus spreads.
At the time I remember saying it would be a case of “when, not if” Britain is hit by a deadly pandemic. Whether Covid-19 is that pandemic remains to be seen, but our findings in 2018 were certainly telling.