AN URGENT hunt has been launched for hundreds of people who could have been in touch with two GPs diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Public health officials have shut down their surgery and are urgently tracing patients who might have been infected.

Tracking down the patients of the two Brighton doctors has been made a priority because the virus is known to be particularly dangerous for those with pre-existing health conditions.

NHS sources stressed a maximum of 15 patients came into contact with them since their return from the French chalet.

The Argus:

The Brighton doctors are among 11 Britons thought to have caught the virus from a "super-spreader", a middle-aged businessman who contracted it in Singapore.

He is believed to be a scoutmaster and married father-of-one.

Whitehall sources suggested the cluster of cases meant hundreds of people would now have to be tested for the virus.


The news comes as the death toll from the killer disease tops 1,000.

At least one of the infected doctors is thought to have practised at the County Oak Medical Centre on Carden Hill.

It was shut down yesterday for a deep clean. 

Six of the infected Britons are being treated in France and Spain, but the other five, including the GPs, are back in the Brighton area.

The Argus:

It is feared the super-spreader, who is in an isolation unit, came into contact with hundreds of people on his return to Britain.

A Scout Association spokesman last night could not confirm whether one of its 640,000 members had contracted the virus.

The World Health Organisation expressed its alarm about the situation last night.

"The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire," said its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He said it was worrying that the illness had been transmitted by people with no travel history to China, where the virus originated.