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Daughter of Chatham man who died of Covid before virus was recognised in UK calls for her dad to be known as Britain's first victim


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The daughter of a man who died of Covid in the Medway Towns before the virus had been recognised in the UK, has called for her father to be officially acknowledged as Britain's first coronavirus victim.

Peter Attwood, 84, a retired accountant from Walderslade, passed away on January 30 last year at Medway Maritime Hospital after falling ill before Christmas with a cough and fever.

Peter and wife Jean Attwood
Peter and wife Jean Attwood

On the request of Jane Buckland, after studying her dad's symptoms, she asked for a post-mortem report which confirmed after lung tissue was examined that he had died from Covid-19.

The death certificate issued last August gave cause of death as Covid-19 infection and bronchopneumonia.

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

Mrs Buckland, 47, an optician's receptionist, also from Walderslade, is questioning why the virus was not recognised as a threat in this country until two months later in March.

She believes the "delay" may have cost lives and fears that the disease could have killed more people in early 2020 than is realised.

Jane Buckland with dad Peter Attwood
Jane Buckland with dad Peter Attwood

She also wants a plaque to her father to commemorate him as possibly the first person outside of China to get the virus.

She said: "It should be recorded in history, officially acknowledged, a bit like the Black Death was. Perhaps it might be an idea for people to see in the future that he was the first person in this country."

Mrs Buckland, who was a carer for her father and mother Jean, 86, who has also died, said she had a "gut feeling" that he had died from the virus.

But she added: "When I saw it written in black and white, it was pretty shocking."

Mr Attwood, who had an underlying heart condition, was admitted to the Gillingham hospital on January 7 struggling for breath and with a "tickly cough".

'When I saw it written in black and white, it was pretty shocking...'

Mrs Buckland and her daughter Megan, 19, of Birkhall Close, had also been sick before Christmas with a temperature, cough and diarrhoea.

She said: "My father was a non-smoker and did not drink and never went abroad. It's a mystery how he ended up getting Covid."

Speaking at time, she said: "I had been caring for my dad at the time but as Covid wasn't a thing here, I was never concerned that I could pass anything on to him.

"It's something we heard about in China, but perhaps we should have acted quicker here when it ripped through Italy.

"He spent three weeks in hospital without getting any better.

Peter Attwood pictured with his family
Peter Attwood pictured with his family

"I decided that I would ask the coroner to test dad for Covid, being that we had all had the symptoms, although apparently the first case here was January 29 and the first death was not until March 5."

Mrs Buckland said: "Now is not the time, but I think there should be a public inquiry into how it was handled in this country, and I would like to be part of that. There are so many questions unanswered."

James Devine, chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We offer our condolences to Mr Attwood’s family on their very sad loss, and are happy to answer any questions they have and would invite them to contact us directly.”

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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