Paul Underwood, the tourist who died while on holiday in Vietnam.

Cape Town - A Cape Town yoga and fitness instructor has died in Vietnam after being bitten by an unidentified insect.

The family and friends of Paul Underwood say they were shocked as he died only hours after contacting them to tell them that he was in hospital.

Underwood, 39, had been enjoying a holiday in Phong Nha Farmstay in Vietnam when he contracted a virus after being bitten by an insect.

“He drove to a hospital in Danang to receive treatment (on Monday) because he had a high fever and wasn’t feeling well. He (Underwood) was feeling too sick to travel all the way so Ben (a friend) suggested he stop at the Hoan My International Clinic in Hue,” Paul Henderson, who was with Underwood at the time, wrote in a letter to inform relatives of his quick deterioration.

“Paul’s breathing was heavy and he was sweating. He told me he had been bitten by an insect on December 26,” he said.

“He (Underwood) had a discolouration on his left calf, which must have come from whatever toxins or virus had entered his bloodstream.” He said he could feel the toxins in his leg and arm and was then taken to ICU for tests, Henderson said.

“By the afternoon, it appeared that the virus had begun to spread quite quick. Discolouration appeared on other limbs and he was getting pins and needles in his fingers. At 7.30pm Paul told me he had notified a friend back home about his condition.”

Henderson said that, nearly 30 minutes later, doctors had put him on a breathing apparatus. “I was in the room with Paul as the doctors tried to get his heart started again. Doctors worked on him for what seemed like forever and I remember the sorrow when they finally stopped.”

His friend Michael Stevenson left Cape Town yesterday in a bid to collect his remains. He said Underwood, who was a free spirit, had travelled widely and had enjoyed meditation and surfing.

When the Cape Times contacted his mother, Naideen Underwood, she said: “I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls of encouragement from family and friends. I’m still in shock because it all happened so suddenly.”

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Cape Times