UPDATE: ‘I’M STAYING OPTIMISTIC’: Coronavirus patient speaks out in first interview from inside quarantine – click here to read UK exclusive interview.
A hospitalised coronavirus patient can now be identified as a young south Buckinghamshire musician, the Bucks Free Press can reveal.
Quarantined Joel Rawlins, from Chesham, is one of four passengers of the virus-stricken cruise liner in Japan to have tested positive at a hospital in the Wirral after being repatriated.
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Read coronavirus patient’s message to family and friends
The 26-year-old has posted a message on social media confirming that he has been diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus and has spoken out about his condition.
He said: “I was rushed straight to hospital and have been here ever since and will remain here until I eventually test negative.”
READ MORE: Coronavirus round-up: Which places have been impacted?
The pianist is one of four confirmed UK patients currently receiving treatment who had been on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which had been stationed off the coast of Japan for more than two weeks amid the outbreak.
He was one of the first diagnoses in people brought back to the UK on repatriation flights.
Joel pictured in a coronavirus t-shirt.
Writing to friends and family on Facebook, Mr Rawlins thanked those close to him for their thoughts and messages.
He said: “It’s almost been a week and most people know by now so I thought I’d announce it publically (sic).
“Last weekend I was told I had tested positive for Covid-19/Coronavirus, making me one of only 13 cases (now 23) in the entire country.
“Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers, it really means so much to me. I’ll be out real soon and I can’t wait to catch up with everyone. ❤❤❤❤❤”
Coach pictured transporting coronavirus patients.
Two of the Wirral patients, including Mr Rawlins, are now in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, one is in the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and a fourth was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
READ MORE: Wycombe’s Royal Grammar School releases statement following coronavirus fears
Yesterday, it was revealed a different patient diagnosed with coronavirus in England has become the first to catch the illness within the UK.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said it was not yet clear if the virus had been passed on from somebody who had recently travelled abroad.
It marked the 23rd confirmed case in the UK – 18 of which were in England, one in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.
The news comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus.
The man, who was also on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship was the sixth person from the vessel to have died.
A spokesman for Princess Cruises was unable to comment on Mr Rawlins’ situation but did pay tribute to the Briton who died.
They said: “All of us at Princess Cruises, including the crew of Diamond Princess, offer our sincere condolences to family members and friends for their loss.
“Our dedicated Care team are on hand to provide support.”
Speaking last week, a leading doctor for the Wirral healthcare team confirmed their plans for the four confirmed victims, including Mr Rawlins.
Wirral Teaching Hospital NHS chief executive Janelle Holmes said: “Four of our guests have now tested positive for Covid-19. They have been moved off site to an appropriate isolation facility.
“We always had a plan in place for this eventuality – and this has been carried out successfully. I want to repeat and reassure that we are continuing to work with national experts from PHE at all times and they are on site, along with local infection control experts and other health care professionals.”
In Buckinghamshire, there has been a series of coronavirus scares.
On Tuesday, Wycombe Hospital was forced to close its Urgent Treatment Centre for an emergency clean and a GP surgery in Beaconsfield also shut amid coronavirus fears.
The World Health Organization has raised its global risk assessment of the virus to “very high” because of the continued emergence of cases and new countries being affected.
But Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization Health Emergencies Programme, reiterated that the outbreak was not a pandemic.
He told a press conference: “If we say there is a pandemic of coronavirus we are essentially accepting every human on the planet will be exposed to that virus and the data does not support that as yet.”
For the latest coronavirus health advice, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/