MetroUK reports how a British man who was ‘days from death’ after contracting flu in Thailand is feared to have been struck by the mystery virus that has killed three people in China.

Ash Shorley, 32, remains in a critical condition in hospital after coming down with flu while on holiday on Koh Phi Phi island. He had to be flown by seaplane to the larger island of Phuket after suffering a collapsed lung due to the illness, which doctors say shows symptoms consistent with Chinese coronavirus.

If confirmed, it would make Mr Shorley the first Western victim of the coronavirus bug which has killed three and infected more than 200 people.

Image: Ash Shorley

His father Chris, 55, of Thornton, Lancashire, told The Sun: ‘He was two days from death. 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 Ash’s mother Julie, also 55, have both flown to Thailand to be at their son’s bedside.

Image: GoFundMe
Image: GoFundMe

A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the family’s travel and medical costs told supporters Ash had surgery last week to remove the infection in his lungs. Doctors have told the family it will be a long road to recovery and they expect to remain in the country for a couple of months.

Chinese state media has confirmed there have been 217 cases of coronavirus since its outbreak in the city of Wuhan but UK experts estimate the figure is closer to 1,700. The disease broke out last month and has already crossed the ocean with cases detected in Japan and Thailand. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold.

Image: Instagram

In 2002 a deadly strain of this disease (SARS) spread to more than two dozen countries in Asia, killing nearly 800 people. Little is known about the new virus, but symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Tourists are expected to travel overseas from China to celebrate the Chinese New Year on January 25 – prompting fears the virus could spread further.

Authorities have sought to play down speculation the new illness could be a reappearance of the SARS epidemic and said no related cases have been found after testing people who have been in close contact with those infected.