A TEAM of doctors who treated the UK's first two coronavirus patients - who were from York - said they had “little understanding” about what they were dealing with at the time.

Two guests at Staycity in Paragon Street, one a student at the University of York, were taken ill in January and transported to hospital by paramedics wearing hazmat suits.

The doctors at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said they “didn’t really think much of it” when they received a call from a GP in the city about the patients – two members of the same family who had recently arrived from China – and didn’t expect them to have contracted Covid-19.

Speaking at the trust’s virtual annual general meeting last week, Anda Samson, Patrick Lillie and Nick Easom spoke about their journey since receiving the first patients on January 29 – an event that interrupted a night out to celebrate a colleague’s retirement.

Dr Samson said: “We had received a phone call from a GP in York saying they had some people who had arrived from China and they were showing symptoms that might be consistent with coronavirus. We had a couple of warnings beforehand so we didn’t really think much of it at the time but of course, advised that they were tested.

“The decision was taken to send the patients to Newcastle, which was part of the national high consequence infectious diseases network.”

Dr Lillie said he and Dr Easom returned to the hospital to initially assess three patients, adding: “At the time, there were less than 10,000 reported cases of coronavirus in the world.

“Therefore, we had very little understanding of what this was, how infectious it was, what the spectrum of the disease was and what we were dealing with.”

Very soon the number of positive Covid-19 began to rise. Dr Lillie added: “It just got mad in terms of the number of people you were seeing, and when it went to Italy the numbers just went through the roof and it became a significant exponential rise.”

After treating the first two patients, the team informed the wider infection community about how they felt their experience could help with future cases.