Fears Brit backpacker struck down with deadly Chinese virus in Thailand
A British backpacker is fighting for his life in a Thailand hospital after it is feared he contracted the deadly Chinese flu virus which has already infected more than 100 people.
Ashley Shorley had to be taken to hospital by a specialised seaplane because the high altitude was too much for his lungs while he was visiting Koh Phi Phi island.
The 32-year-old's symptoms appear to be consistent with the Chinese coronvirus which has officially been contracted by at least 139 people while three deaths have been reported, sparking fears of a pandemic.
But with Ashley's parents by his bedside while he relies on a ventilator to breathe, there are concerns the Chinese authorities are keeping the true scale of the issue under wraps, reports the Sun .
He is understood to be the first Brit to have contracted the virus.
China's National Health Commission said in a statement on January 19 the source of the virus hasn't been found and that its transmission path has not been fully mapped.
Phuket doctors drained 2kg of liquid from Ashley's lungs and his dad Chris said his son was "two days from death", adding: "If he wasn’t so fit, he wouldn’t be with us now.
“We are now waiting on tests. It is very serious.”
Chris and wife Julie, both 55, from Thornton, Lancashire, flew out to the Asian country after their son was rushed to hospital on December 27.
And a GoFundMe page has been launched by family friend Tracey Hart in a hopeful bid to keep them at Ashley's side as he continues his fight, reports the Blackpool Gazette .
The brave patient had sold his house and jetted off after a long-term relationship broke down last month, rather than move back in with his parents.
But just one week into his travels, he contracted the horrendous virus and his condition deteriorated rapidly.
Julie said: "We were at our holiday home in Spain for Christmas when Ashley told us he was poorly in Koh Phi Phi, but at the time we didn't think it was anything too serious.
"He was eventually rushed to a hospital in Phuket by speedboat on January 2 where he ended up in intensive care, and I flew out from Spain to be with him on January 4.
"He had pneumonia and two collapsed lungs, and they sent him by air ambulance to the intensive care unit at another hospital in Bangkok on the 6th."
The desperate mum said her son is in a stable condition and has been for two weeks, but his condition has not improved.
With the ventilator keeping him alive, his fluctuating temperatures fight off infection in his lungs.
And while Ashley's travel insurance is covering the medical bills for his ongoing treatment, his parents are running out of money to pay for their living costs while they stay with him.
Ashley works in publishing for his dad, who flew out on January 7 to join his wife and son, though the two parents have had no indication yet if or when he may recover.
Julie said: "He's had different operations, but the infection in his lungs isn't going away.
"He's heavily sedated on a breathing tube with abscesses on his lung and a leak in one of them, and he isn't well enough to be moved, and can't be flown back to the UK."
She went on to say that the family cats and dogs are in Spain in boarding "with costs mounting up" and "now we have the unexpected accommodation costs to pay for – we could be here for months".
"I didn't want to ask anyone for help but I'm so grateful to my friend Tracey for trying to help us. This is a mother's worst nightmare," she added.
Chinese authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) say a new strain of coronavirus is behind the outbreak of pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, which has erupted just ahead of the Lunar New Year, the country's biggest festival.
Some experts say the strain may not be as deadly as some other strains of coronavirus such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide during a 2002/03 outbreak that also originated from China.
But little is known about the new virus, including its origin and how easily it can be transmitted between humans.
Chinese authorities confirmed 139 new cases of the virus and a third death from the outbreak on January 20.
The new cases include three patients outside of Wuhan, including two in Beijing, marking the first instances of the virus spreading to other Chinese cities.
As of January 20, there were more than 200 confirmed cases of patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus.
Their symptoms included fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.
Of the 198 patients in Wuhan itself, three have died and 25 have been cured.
Thailand has also reported two confirmed cases of the pneumonia, both of whom were Chinese tourists from Wuhan.
Japan has also confirmed one case of a Japanese citizen who visited Wuhan.
The outbreak is strongly linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, but some patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus deny exposure to this market.
Health officials have said there is no clear evidence the virus spreads easily from one person to another, but they cannot rule out the possibility of human-to-human transmission.
Airport authorities in the United States as well as many Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea, have stepped up screening of passengers from Wuhan.
The World Health Organization sent directives to hospitals around the world on infection prevention and control.
To make a donation to the Shorleys, visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-for-ashley-shorley
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