Government's top scientists found out Covid spread out of China DURING meeting

One of the Government's top scientific advisory panels found out Covid had spread to another country from China during a crunch meeting to discuss the virus' threat to Britain, official documents reveal.

Public Health England (PHE) members present at an hour-long NERVTAG discussion on January 13 were notified of a case in Thailand – which was the first time the then-unnamed disease had been diagnosed outside of China.

The infected woman, 61, was spotted through thermal screening at a Bangkok airport after she travelled with family members from Wuhan – the Chinese city at the heart of the pandemic.

NERVTAG advisers questioned how she caught the coronavirus because she had not visited a seafood market that was originally considered Covid's ground zero, raising the prospect the disease was spreading between humans.

But the group of virologists and epidemiologists from Britain's top universities, who feed directly into SAGE, insisted there was little evidence to say it was being passed from person to person and decided the risk to the public was still 'very low'.

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Minutes of the group's first meeting on Covid-19 revealed the group was 'fully aware' the case in Thailand was detected by a thermal image scan. But they concluded that port of entry screening was 'not advised'.

Public Health England (PHE) members present at an hour-long NERVTAG discussion on January 13 were notified of a case in Thailand – which was the first time the then-unnamed disease had been diagnosed outside of China

Public Health England (PHE) members present at an hour-long NERVTAG discussion on January 13 were notified of a case in Thailand – which was the first time the then-unnamed disease had been diagnosed outside of China

NERVTAG agreed to meet up again in 'around two weeks' time'. Department of Health observers who were present were told to simply sort out putting up 'advice posters' in airports for travellers with tell-tale symptoms

NERVTAG agreed to meet up again in 'around two weeks' time'. Department of Health observers who were present were told to simply sort out putting up 'advice posters' in airports for travellers with tell-tale symptoms

The discussion – carried out over video call to discuss the 'fast-moving' event – was attended by 'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson and England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.

NERVTAG agreed to meet up again in 'around two weeks' time'. Department of Health observers who were present were told to simply sort out putting up 'advice posters' in airports for travellers with tell-tale symptoms.

But the group actually met again after just eight days. PHE representatives warned that the situation was 'rapidly changing' and scientists agreed there was now 'clear evidence' of human-to-human transmission.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam

'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson

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The discussion – carried out over video call to discuss the 'fast-moving' event – was attended by 'Professor Lockdown' Neil Ferguson (right) and England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam (left)

Only 283 cases of Covid had been diagnosed across the world at the time, including four outside of China and 21 in provinces other than the hot-bed of Hubei – which Wuhan is the capital of. Another 15 cases, including one in Taiwan, were still being investigated.

NERVTAG scientists are already being prepared for a public inquiry over science used to guide No10 through Covid

Government scientists are already fretting about a potential public inquiry into the evidence ministers were given to shape Britain’s bungling response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Department of Health officials in September – before the UK’s second wave had even kicked in – were working out how they could support members of NERVTAG if No10 called for an official probe.

Minutes of a meeting of the advisory panel, which feeds directly into SAGE, say: ‘There will likely be scrutiny of NERVTAG’s deliberations as they have offered critical pieces of advice.’

Professor Peter Horby, an infectious disease expert at Oxford University who chairs the panel of top scientists, revealed he would circulate a document on ‘records management’ in preparation for an inquiry.

MailOnline yesterday revealed that NERVTAG found out Covid had spread from China to Thailand during a crunch meeting in January – but still insisted the risk of the disease to the UK public was ‘very low’.

Official figures show at least 50,000 Britons have since died, with ministers blamed for being too slow to implement the first lockdown in March and letting the cruel disease run rampant through care homes.

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to commit to a public inquiry into the Government’s

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