The doctor who treated the first two patients in the UK diagnosed with coronavirus has revealed they were not ill enough to be in hospital.
Dr Matthias Schmid led the team at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle where two members of the same family were admitted on 31 January.
The head of infectious diseases said his team learned a lot from the patients about the virus.
However, he said had they got the virus now they would not need hospital care.
The pair, Chinese nationals who were from the same family, had been visiting York when they became ill.
As they were thought to have coronavirus they were transferred to the RVI, which was the closest specialist centre.
Dr Schmid said: “At the time the situation was classed as being highly dangerous – we had the reports from Wuhan of many patients dying.
“In one way we were very excited, preparing for it the previous weeks and being ready for the situation.
“Not like a funfair excitement, but sheer excitement we were now in action.”
Senior sister at the RVI, Margaret Ward, was one of the team who helped care for them.
She said: “I got a phone call at about four in the morning and I immediately dived into the car and came to work.
“Things that were going through my mind were, ‘how were staffing levels and how ill were the patients going to be?’.”
The patients made a full recovery and were discharged on 15 February.
Dr Schmid added: “The patients were actually very well indeed and had mild symptoms. In fact if it had been a few weeks on they would not have been admitted to hospital.
“We did take a lot of samples from them and learned about the infectiousness of the bug.”