Third Briton tests positive for coronavirus
CORONAVIRUS has been diagnosed in a third British victim, reported to have travelled to the UK from Singapore, as those who recently returned from nine Asian countries were advised to isolate themselves.
In a significant escalation of the crisis, doctors were last night ordered to watch for symptoms in travellers from across Asia after the first UK case to originate from outside mainland China.
It followed confirmation of the virus in a man who went to A&E in Brighton on Sunday after falling ill. Last night, he was transferred from the Royal Sussex Hospital to a secure unit run by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London after tests proved positive.
People returning from nine countries or territories are being urged to isolate themselves and call NHS 111 if they showed any symptoms of coronavirus.
Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said tourists who had been to China, Thailand, Japan, South
Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the past fortnight should be on high alert. The Department of Health and Social Care said it demonstrated the danger from the region as a whole was increasing.
It followed those of two Chinese nationals who went down with the virus in York last week and were still being treated in Newcastle. Prof Whitty said: “We knew this ratchet-up might well
happen and this is the moment where we feel it’s prudent. What we have is a situation where a very high risk remains in Wuhan and Hubei, high risk in the rest of China but much lower than in Wuhan and Hubei, and a much smaller risk in a number of countries.
“Unsurprisingly, countries where the greatest risk is in terms of new cases are the ones that have the greatest international traffic with China, and that is exactly as you would expect.”
Twenty-four cases of coronavirus and one death from the disease were confirmed in Hong Kong, which this week announced blanket quarantining of visitors from the mainland.
Meanwhile, Taiwan suffered 16 confirmed cases, South Korea 23, Japan 45, the Philippines two with one death, and Thailand 25.
Prof Paul Cosford, medical director for Public Health England, said the agency was trying to trace people with whom the latest UK patient might have been in contact. However, he suggested officials were not concerned about tracing passengers on any Asiauk flights the patient may have taken.
Earlier, the Chinese ambassador to Britain warned against “rumours and panic” over coronavirus after concerns were raised that Boris Johnson had not offered a personal message of support to China’s leaders. Speaking to reporters in London, Liu Xiaoming said: “It is of hope that governments of all countries, including the UK, should understand and support China’s efforts, avoid overreaction, avoid creating panic, and ensure normal co-operation and exchanges between countries.”
Prof Whitty said he expected further cases of coronavirus in the UK but that the scale of Britain’s exposure was largely in the hands of China.
“Clearly, if this outbreak in China rolls out of the ability of the Chinese authorities to hold it and it starts spreading everywhere in the world, then in due course there is a reasonable chance it will come to the UK in such large numbers,” he said.
All NHS hospitals in England have been ordered to create secure pods to assess patients with suspected coronavirus to prevent A&E departments becoming the front line for suspected cases. Meanwhile the Foreign Office has advised Britons in China to leave if able.
The UK Government is chartering a final flight to bring British nationals back from coronavirus-hit Wuhan.
The plane was expected to leave early on Sunday and was scheduled to land at RAF Brize Norton, the Foreign Office said – adding that it wanted to ensure that all British nationals in Hubei province contacted the Foreign Office to register their names if they wanted to leave on the flight.
The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton where a third person tested positive