The British man who is believed to be a “superspreader” of coronavirus has been identified as businessman Steve Walsh.

The 53-year-old said he has fully recovered after being diagnosed in Brighton on 6 February with coronavirus.

He contracted the virus in Singapore while at a business conference before going to the French Alps for a ski holiday, then returning to his home in Hove, East Sussex.

Steve Walsh has been named as the coronavirus superspreader in the UK. Pic: Servomex
Image: Steve Walsh is believed to have spread coronavirus to 11 people. Pic: Servomex

In the latest coronavirus developments:

  • The new name for the disease is COVID-19, the World Health Organisation has announced
  • Two prisoners are being tested for the infection at HMP Bullingdon – one a recent transfer from Thailand
  • The death toll in mainland China reached 1,110 on Tuesday
  • That came after 94 deaths in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, where the death toll is 1,068
  • Hubei also reported 1,638 new cases, taking the total to 44,276 across mainland China
  • There have still only been two deaths outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines
  • As of 2pm on Tuesday, the UK had tested 1,358 people – 244 more than Monday – with eight positive
  • Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that the virus was “from an economic perspective, already bigger than SARS”
  • Postal operators in the US, China and elsewhere have said the suspension of flights is having a major impact on global flows of letters and parcels

Mr Walsh is suspected of being a “superspreader” by unwittingly infecting 11 other Britons who were in France with him. Five of those Britons are now in the UK, five are in France and one is in Majorca.

Mr Walsh has two children and is an assistant cub scout leader at the 3rd Hove St Leonards Scout Group where he is known as Shere Khan.

All but two of the eight coronavirus cases confirmed in the UK are connected to Mr Walsh.

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The most recent case to have been identified is a healthcare worker at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex.

Staff received a memo on Tuesday telling them someone in the A&E department had been diagnosed with the disease, but the Department of Health said all services, including surgery and out patients, are operating normally.

Earlier, Mr Walsh released a statement from St Thomas’ hospital in London, where he is in quarantine.

Mr Walsh said: “I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care – whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus.

“As soon as I knew I had been exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus I contacted my GP, NHS 111 and Public Health England.

“I was advised to attend an isolated room at hospital, despite showing no symptoms, and subsequently self-isolated at home as instructed.

“When the diagnosis was confirmed I was sent to an isolation unit in hospital, where I remain, and, as a precaution, my family was also asked to isolate themselves.

“I also thank friends, family and colleagues for their support during recent weeks and I ask the media to respect our privacy.”

Five Britons staying in a chalet at a French ski resort have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the country's health minister has said.
Image: Eleven Britons who stayed with Mr Walsh have been diagnosed with coronavirus

As Mr Walsh and the other Britons who have contracted the virus from him remain in isolation, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the situation “will get worse before it gets better”.

Mr Hancock said through contract tracing of Mr Walsh’s contacts, the NHS identified the four cases on Monday and the five British nationals in France.

He also announced the launch of a capital fund to support any urgent work the NHS needs to help prevent the spread, such as isolation facilities. This is on top of the £40m that will go towards research for a vaccine he previously announced.

Mr Walsh was at the conference at the Grand Hyatt in Singapore with his company, Servomex, a gas analytics company.

A Servomex spokesman said: “We are very pleased that Steve Walsh has made a full recovery. We continue to provide support to him and his family.

“We are working with Public Health authorities to ensure the welfare of our staff and communities and wish anyone with the virus a quick and full recovery.”

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Mr Walsh attended the Singapore conference from 20-23 January before flying to the Alps on 24 January.

He shared a chalet with 11 others before flying from Geneva to Gatwick on an early morning easyJet flight on 28 January.

On 6 February, Mr Walsh was diagnosed with coronavirus in Brighton, having gone to a yoga class and The Grenadier pub.

Two days later five other Britons, including a nine-year-old, who were staying in the chalet with Mr Walsh, were diagnosed in France and are in quarantine in hospital there. They are understood to not be in a serious condition.

The County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton has been closed after being linked to a coronavirus case
Brighton health centre disinfected

Then on 9 February, another British man who was in the ski resort tested positive in Majorca, where he lives, but his wife and two daughters tested negative.

On Sunday, another member of the group was also confirmed as having the virus.

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On Monday, four people were diagnosed in the UK, including two healthcare workers at the County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton which has been closed since Monday.

A second branch, in Brighton’s Deneway area, was closed on Tuesday for “urgent operational health and safety reasons”.

Officials are now trying to trace anybody who came into contact with the two healthcare workers and the Patcham Nursing Home is isolating its 24 elderly residents after one of them visited the home.

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