'First British Man to Catch COVID' Found Dead in Room at University

A student believed to be the first British man to have caught COVID-19 while teaching English in China has died following a "tragic accident" at university, his mother confirmed.

Connor Reed, 26, taught in Wuhan - the city in China where COVID-19 was first identified - and believed he caught the virus in late November, without knowing what it was at the time. After his recovery, he returned to the U.K. to study for a Chinese language degree at Bangor University in Wales.

He was found dead in his halls of residence at the university this weekend, his mother Hayley Reed confirmed on Facebook. She said: "It brings me great sadness to announce our beautiful son Connor Reed has passed away in a tragic accident at Bangor University at the weekend. He will be so greatly missed by his brothers, family, and friends. He had such a wonderful smile, enthusiasm, and love for life. We are blessed to of had you in our lives if only for a very short time. Rest in peace our darling (sic)."

She told The Sun her son had "endured a lot of hardship in China" and had undergone "more lockdown than anyone we have known", including 16 weeks in China, two weeks in Australia, and three weeks in the U.K. She said: "We are both broken-hearted that his adventures came to an end at Bangor University where he was studying for a degree in Chinese language with what looks like a tragic accident. We will never know where his ambition and drive would have taken him."

North Wales Police confirmed they were called to a room at Bangor University halls of residence shortly after 10 pm on October 25. Reed was pronounced dead at the scene, despite the best efforts of paramedics. His death is not being treated as suspicious, police said.

A Bangor University spokesperson said: "Our thoughts are with the student's family and friends at this very sad time. Student wellbeing is a university priority and we are offering support to others in halls and at the university who knew the student."

Connor and Hayley Reed Facebook tribute picture
Hayley Reed paid tribute to her "beautiful son" as she announced his death online Hayley Reed

Earlier this year, Reed made headlines by claiming he had cured himself of COVID by drinking "hot whisky and honey". He fell ill in Wuhan while it was the epicenter of the virus after moving there during the summer of 2019. He said COVID-19 caused the city to become "unrecognizable" from when he first arrived.

"It is quite scary because normally the streets are bustling, there are people dancing and singing, it's normally a very jovial place," he told the U.K.'s This Morning program in March. "But at the moment it is very dead and you can feel that atmosphere."

Describing his own infection, Reed said: "It comes in three stages, first you have a common cold and then it progresses into the flu and then finally pneumonia. During the cold stage, it wasn't so bad, it was definitely during the flu and pneumonia, that's when I thought 'it's getting quite serious'. That's the point that I went to the hospital." A coroner has opened an investigation into his death.

The first known coronavirus case has been traced back to November 17. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, government data shows a 55-year-old from the Hubei province, which Wuhan is the capital of, was the person with the first known case of COVID-19. According to the CDC, "epidemiologists determined that the virus possibly came from an animal sold at a market." Exactly when and where this happened is not known.