Daughter of early UK coronavirus victim says people have died 'unnecessarily' due to China 'cover-up'

Credit: ITV News/Family photo

The daughter of a man who may have been the first person outside China to die from coronavirus has attacked Chinese officials who, she says, covered up the outbreak.

Peter Attwood, 84, from Chatham in Kent, died in hospital on January 30. He fell ill soon before Christmas with a cough and fever.

While heart failure and pneumonia were initially blamed for his death, a coroner has now confirmed Mr Attwood was found to have had coronavirus in his lung tissue.

His cause of death has now been listed as Covid-19.

It's believed to make Mr Attwood the first known death from Covid-19 outside China - coming just 19 days after the first reported casualty from the disease in the city where it is believed to have originated, Wuhan.

The first coronavirus death in the UK was previously thought to have occurred on March 5.

Mr Attwood’s daughter Jane Buckland told ITV News she was convinced the virus was to blame, and was stunned when the coroner seemed to confirm that.

"I was initially shocked, but the other part of me wasn't shocked," she said.

"In my heart of hearts I already knew and I'd been saying to friends and family that 'I think he had this coronavirus'.

"But everyone said to me 'no, can't have done' because it wasn't even in the country".

The 46-year-old said more needs to be done to determine if people were dying from the virus before it is generally thought to have reached the UK. She told the Sun newspaper that officials in China may have covered up the outbreak.

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"If we do dig further, we might be able to find out actually some people did die of it earlier.

"I think we need to know. I know it's not going to change it now, but I think the families need to know that, possibly, their relatives and their loved ones did die - maybe unnecessarily - if we'd have known about it".

Ms Buckland, who works as a full-time carer, said she also feared she had infected her father with Covid-19, since she had suffered symptoms including a fever and a dry cough.

She said her elderly father had an underlying heart condition, and so would have been shielding if the nature of the disease had have been known at that time.