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Corona virus in the UK

virus Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Published on 31 January 2020 04:14 PM

Based on the World Health Organisation's declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. This permits the government to plan for all eventualities. The risk to individuals in the UK has not changed at this stage.

As of 30 January, a total of 161 UK tests have concluded, of which 161 were confirmed negative and 0 positive. However we have just been informed today that two members of the same family have tested positive for coronavirus in England and are believed to be being treated in Newcastle.  These are the first cases of the virus to be diagnosed in the UK as more than 80 Britons on an evacuation flight from the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak were due to land in the UK.  The Department of Health declined to say where in England the patients are from but it is understood they are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle and are receiving specialist NHS care, and tried and tested infection control procedures are being used to prevent further spread of the virus.  "The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections, and they are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.

The NHS have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately.  They are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organisation and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure they are ready for all eventualities.

The current death toll in China from the virus has risen to 213 with the number of known cases rising from 7,711 to 9,692.  However no deaths have occurred outside China, although 82 cases have been confirmed across 18 countries.

Important information

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include flu type symptoms, a fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.  Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.  If you are worried about anything or have contracted any of these symptoms seek medical advice immediately.

Things to remember to avoid infection:

  • Wash your hands: wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the bin and wash your hands. If you do not have a tissue to hand, cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than your hands.
  • Seek early medical help as mentioned above if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods.
  • If you have returned from an affected area in China in the last two weeks, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. This means not going to work, or other public areas.

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