Medic in hazmat suit escorts Birmingham man to ambulance amid coronavirus fears

Coronavirus fears spread to Birmingham as a medic wearing a hazmat suit was filmed escorting a man who recently returned from the epicentre of the outbreak with flu-like symptoms.

Footage shows Drew Bennett wearing a face mask and a hood pulled up over his head as he enters the back of the ambulance in Harborne.

The 39-year-old sales worker, who is now isolated in hospital, is joined by a medic who is wearing a white suit, a mask with a visor, gloves and a blue apron, and carrying a bag of equipment.

In the video, two paramedics in uniform are not wearing protective suits and at least one is not wearing a mask, sparking questions about measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

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Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Bennett told BirminghamLive that he returned from Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak, on December 31.

He said he felt unwell at home and thought he had the flu, but his symptoms eventually went away.

When he went to his GP for an unrelated matter on Monday, the doctor asked him if he had recently visited China.

After Mr Bennett confirmed that he had been in Wuhan and had felt unwell, he was told to go home.

An ambulance was sent to his home and he was put in isolation at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he underwent blood tests.

He said: "I had been in Wuhan on holiday over Christmas and came back to Harborne on December 31.

"Once I got back I was really ill with, what I thought, was a bad case of the flu. At that stage coronavirus hadn't really been mentioned so I thought nothing of it.

"However, when I went to the GP on Monday and he asked as a precaution if I had been to China, he seemed really concerned.

"I was sent home and before I knew it, ambulances and people in hazmat suits had turned up."

"I'm now in isolation at the QE and just waiting to get my blood test results.

"I don't feel particularly unwell now, but I've not been 100 per cent since returning from Wuhan.

"Since I got over the worst symptoms I've been back to work, shopping, just normal life.

"It's a really worrying time and not a nice experience."

Health officials refused to say whether the patient in the video was being tested for coronavirus.

The scene was filmed by Mollie Lune, who lives opposite Mr Bennett.

She wrote on Twitter: "What have i just witnessed outside my flat in harborne #coronavirus."

Her video has been viewed more than 143,000 times on Twitter since Monday afternoon.

West Midlands Ambulance Service declined to comment.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "There are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the UK and we can’t comment on individual cases or provide a commentary on any tests that might be underway."

Ms Lune, 20, is 35 weeks pregnant and just recently moved into her flat.

She told BirminghamLive: "I saw the ambulance outside first and it was there for about an hour which I thought was unusual.

"Then I saw two people in hazmat suits. One had already gone into the ambulance by the time I grabbed my phone to record it.

"There was an ambulance and two ambulance cars there as well. The two paramedics had face masks on."

Viewers questioned why two of the paramedics were not dressed head-to-toe in the same protective gear as their colleague.

One tweeted: "So the ambulance drivers are not even wearing protective clothing yet do get rather close to the patient? Is the UK really prepared? I think not."

Another wrote: "At the end of your video appears a person without mask. I don't think they would let anybody near without protection?!"

A third, referencing the Health Secretary, added: "We are prepared are we not, Matt Hancock? No face mask & no gloves on either of the paramedics."

Britain has not had a confirmed case of SARS-like coronavirus, which has killed more than 100 people and infected more than 4,500 others during an outbreak in China.

Public Health England said almost 100 people in Britain have been tested for the flu-like illness, but all of the tests have come back negative.

However, it warned that it the virus is likely already in the UK.

Officials are trying to trace more than 1,500 people who recently travelled from Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak in China – to the UK in the past two weeks.

Meanwhile, the UK is preparing to repatriate Britons who are stranded in Wuhan, which has been locked down by authorities.

Flights have been grounded, public transport has been halted and checkpoints have been set up on roads.

Outside of China there have now been 45 confirmed cases in 13 countries, with no deaths so far, World Health Organisation spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

Germany declared its first confirmed case on Monday, joining France, which was the first European country to recorded cases.

Cases have also been confirmed in Japan, South Korea, the US, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

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