The UK's first coronavirus patient, a Chinese national who had recently been to China, took an Uber taxi to Lewisham hospital in South London after falling ill, according to The Guardian.
Then they sent her home to wait for her lab results.
Two staff who came into contact with the woman are currently in isolation.
Lewisham hospital on Thursday confirmed the unnamed patient had not followed public health officials’ advice and had simply “self-presented” at its A&E unit on Sunday afternoon.
She did not arrive by ambulance or her own private vehicle and went straight to the A&E reception desk to report her symptoms – both clear breaches of guidance aimed at stopping the spread of the virus. -The Guardian
After she tested positive, the patient was taken to another London hospital, St. Thomas, for treatment.
"We wanted to let you know that we have had a confirmed case of coronavirus from a patient who self-presented at the A&E department of University hospital Lewisham (UHL) last Sunday (9 February)," wrote Ben Travis, chief executive of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust.
"The test result was confirmed as positive yesterday (Wednesday 12 February) and we have been in touch with all staff who came into contact with the patient. The patient went to [a specialist unit at] St Thomas’ yesterday evening, so we are now able to update all staff."
Travis also described the chain of events.
"In this case, the patient self-presented at our A&E. As soon as the patient did this, the patient was given a mask and then escorted to be tested in the dedicated area we have assigned for coronavirus testing outside the A&E building – while awaiting the installation of a purpose-built ‘pod’," he wrote, adding "As further assessment was required, the patient was then taken to a dedicated isolation room in the emergency department. In line with our protocols, throughout their care the patient was escorted and did not come into contact with other patients. The patient was later discharged and taken home by London ambulance service."
Some staff were exposed to a risk of infection as a result of her walking straight into the A&E, rather than going to the ambulance bay to be met by trained doctors and nurses in hazmat suits, which is what happens with most other possible coronavirus cases.
Travis added: “All staff who had direct contact with the patient have been contacted, including two members of staff who are undergoing active surveillance at home for a 14-day period as a precautionary measure – following the advice of Public Health England.”
Contrary to previous media reports the woman did not ring the NHS 111 advice service before she went to the hospital. “If she had done that, things would have happened very differently when she got here. She wouldn’t have walked into A&E for a start and correct protocols would have been followed,” said a member of staff. -The Guardian
Not to worry, says England's Public health service! The woman was reportedly "taken to be tested by a route that avoided patients," while the Uber driver wasn't in contact with the woman very long.
"As the journey was less than 15 minutes the driver did not have close sustained contact with the individual and is not considered high risk."
Hopefully reports of contracting the hyper-virulent nCoV in just 15 seconds are false.