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Peter Attwood, 84, died in January after developing a mystery cough and fever. His cause of death was initially recorded as heart failure and pneumonia, but new tests show the Briton actually died of coronavirus. This makes Mr Attwood the first recorded victim of COVID-19 and the first death outside of China.
The man’s daughter, Jane Buckland, has responded to the news with fury and accused Beijing of covering up the outbreak.
She said her father fell ill with coronavirus symptoms on December 15 last year, meaning the deadly virus could have been spreading in the UK at least two weeks before China said it even existed.
Ms Buckland fears she may have passed the virus on to her father, as she also displayed symptoms.
Mr Attwood, from Chatham, Kent, had never travelled abroad.
She told the Sun: “Covid has obviously been around for much longer than we know.
“People have been talking about a cover-up but we don’t know the scale of it.
“My father could still be here if we’d known about the threat of this horrible virus earlier.”
The 46-year-old added: “If China hadn’t lied to the rest of the world and kept this hidden for so long, it could have saved countless lives.”
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Ms Buckland said her father’s cough got so bad that he was admitted to hospital on January 7.
She said: “The doctors did every test under the sun but couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.
“His blood tests showed a high level of infection but they had no idea what it was.”
He died on January 30, with some of his lung tissue kept for future tests as he was suspected of having asbestosis, a lung condition caused by working around asbestos.
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Deaths from it have to be referred to a coroner.
But, Mr Attwood, a retired car dealership company secretary, never worked with asbestos.
Ms Buckland received an email from Kent coroner Bina Patel last Thursday informing her the post-mortem tests had detected coronavirus in his lung tissue.
She said her father’s diagnosis of coronavirus evidences the virus was “running rampant” from December.
The 46-year-old added: “China was covering it up from the beginning…
“How many lives could have been saved if we’d known what was really going on?”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the revelations prove China misled the world about the extent of the coronavirus outbreak last year.
He told the newspaper: “This has absolutely proved positive that what was going on back in October in China, where doctors were speaking out and then were silenced, was that China knew all about human to human transfer about this virus and did nothing about it.”
University of East Anglia Professor of Medicine Paul Hunter said of Peter’s case: “This is a remarkable development because it shows there was some virus transmission in the UK before anyone realised.”
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