Former Coronation Street star Ken Morley has claimed that he overcame coronavirus in 2018, more than a year before the latest strain became a global pandemic.
More than 300,000 people have so far tested positive for COVID-19, with over 13,000 losing their lives, including more than 230 in the UK.
Coronavirus is thought to have been around in some form since the 1960s but until now has never led to a global crisis - although Morley, who played Reg Holdsworth on Corrie for six years, believes that he contracted it in 2018 while performing in panto in York.
"In the hospital I was told there was no name for the virus, but that it was mainly affecting the local Chinese students, who were there studying either medicine or English," Morley, 77, told the Daily Star.
"I had suffered severe flu several times before in my life, but nothing to compare to that virus. What I went through was entirely different to anything I had ever had before.
"The run-in with what I thought was the flu, but am now convinced was a precursor to coronavirus, was looking like the final nail in the coffin – I can honestly say I've never felt as close to the final curtain as when I collapsed after being helped off stage.
"I had never been that seriously ill ever before and was taken by ambulance to the hospital in York, where I was literally in a daze for three days."
Corrie is continuing to film in Manchester amid the outbreak, although cast members aged 70 or over have temporarily been written out of the show.