CORONAVIRUS claimed its first death in Sussex yesterday and one of the county’s MPs was diagnosed with the illness.

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust confirmed that a 75-year-old patient with the disease had died at Eastbourne District General Hospital.

They had recently travelled abroad and suffered from underlying health problems.

The trust said: “Our hearts go out to the patient’s family and their loved ones at this difficult time. We would ask that the family’s wishes for privacy are respected.”


On a day when the number of diagnosed cases in Sussex doubled, jumping from 13 to 26, Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle announced he had tested positive for Covid-19.

The Labour politician said he received his results six days after being tested for the illness,

He said: “I was tested on the last day the NHS was still conducting community testing.

“If we are to beat this then we need to take the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice and ‘test, test, test’.

“The priority must be our healthcare and social care workers, we need them on the frontline saving lives and testing is the only way we will achieve that.

“This is the greatest test our NHS has ever faced, an NHS that was already under strain.

“I have every confidence that we have the skills and resources to beat this virus, but only if we take radical steps to reorganise and re-prioritise our system.”

It is not just healthcare workers who will take a hit from the effects of coronavirus on the UK.

Labour MP for Hove Peter Kyle warned the city was “particularly vulnerable to the impact of an epidemic of this kind” due to its reliance on certain industries.

As spring turns to summer, the city is usually flooded with shoppers and tourists filling the shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs and cafes that line most streets.

But, following the heightening of the crisis, many streets are deserted and businesses are struggling to attract customers, particularly with Government advice warning people to stay at home and steer clear of any form of social gathering.

In Brighton and Hove yesterday, only a handful of travellers were waiting for trains at the station, there was barely a soul to be seen in the usually vibrant Lanes and Churchill Square could, for all intents and purposes, be closed given the lack of customers.

Mr Kyle said: “Our economy is dominated by three sectors: hospitality and tourism, higher education, and commuting to London.

“We also have the highest numbers of micro-businesses and sole-person businesses per capita in the country.

“The very second that initial outbreak [when Brighton became the epicentre of UK cases early last month with five patients] was tackled I switched to finding ways to understand the needs of our local economy in the challenges we’re now entering and doing my best to get it heard by ministers and Government.”

Mr Kyle has worked closely with a range of experts on the illness since the first cases were confirmed in Brighton and Hove to provide constituents with up-to-date information on the virus’s spread.

Through this, he warned that he had been told of the volatile nature of Covid-19.

The Hove and Portslade representative said: “I’ve read everything I can lay my hands on about Covid-19 and one raw statistic illustrates why it has wreaked so much havoc around the world.

“Seasonal flu is, as we all know, pretty infectious.

“After ten ‘infective cycles’ – one person passing it on to the next ten times – 14 people will have been infected.

“Now, compare that to Covid-19.

“After ten ‘infective cycles’, Covid-19 will have infected 59,000 people – this assumes no mitigation measures of course, but it shows what we’re up against.

“This tells us just how remarkable that operation in Brighton and Hove was to halt infection last month, and also explains why experts believed that an epidemic across Britain was inevitable.”

Mr Kyle also said he had been told by one of the world’s leading virologists, whose role it is to study viruses, that in a country as connected as ours and with a virus that is as virulent as this, it is simply impossible to prevent its spread.

He said: “Our best hope is to limit its damage, protect the vulnerable, and delay its peak for as long as possible in order to prepare our public services and learn the lessons of other countries.”

He said clear communication between the authorities and the public was essential.

He also said, after speaking with scientific experts, that timing was everything.

Mr Kyle said: “They have told me that, if they ‘lock down’ Britain too early, they might have to keep us in quarantine for a very long time

and once we emerge it will only take a few residual cases to reignite the epidemic.

“If they leave it too late then our health services will become overwhelmed.

“I do not doubt the pressure that decision-makers are under in their quest to make the right judgement.”

Following extensive research into coronavirus, Mr Kyle settled on one conclusion.

He said: “For now we are being asked to work from home if possible, to avoid public transport and not to go

abroad, not to go for a night out or even to gather with small groups of friends at all.

“We need to really look out for older people.

“Last weekend my family gathered just as we always try to do on a Sunday.

“But we did so electronically on a video-call.

“This was for the benefit of my dad.

“He’s spent a lifetime looking out for me and our family, now it’s time we did the same for him.”