A third person has tested positive for
The patient is thought to have been diagnosed at the Royal Sussex in Brighton and whisked off to a specialist infectious diseases unit at a London hospital this morning, where they will be kept in isolation for at least two weeks.
Public Health England said the patient did not catch the highly contagious disease in the UK, suggesting they had recently flown back from China and the illness was not picked up on arrival.
It comes amid a furious backlash at the Government’s ‘passive’ response to the outbreak so far, after 16 countries including the US and Australia banned anyone from entering if they had been in China in the past two weeks.
Scores of travellers from the disease-stricken country have been pouring into Britain every day without being properly tested for the infection, prompting calls for a similar blanket travel ban.
The killer virus has so far claimed 565 lives and infected more than 28,500 people in 28 countries and territories around the world.
It comes after footage surfaced of paramedics in full white protective suits and face masks at a house in York – less than a mile from the hotel where the first two cases had stayed.
A neighbour claimed they saw the paramedics march a young woman outside the property, thought to be rented by students, at 7.20pm and load her into the back of the van.
Medics in full white protective suits and face masks were filmed leaving a residential home in York in an ambulance on Tuesday night
A neighbour claimed they marched a young woman outside the property at 7.20pm and loaded her into the back of the van
More than 28,000 people are now confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus and 565 have died worldwide
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, confirmed the third positive test this afternoon.
In a statement, he said: ‘A further patient has tested positive for coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the UK to three. The individual did not acquire this in the UK.
A specially-designed tent with controlled ventilation may be set up around the patient’s bed to prevent the virus from spreading (similar to this one at the Royal Free in London)
‘The patient is being transferred to a specialist
‘The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had.’
Details about the case are scarce, but it is thought the patient was diagnosed at a hospital in Brighton and is currently being transferred to an Airborne High Consequence Infectious Disease (AHCID) unit in London.
Only four hospitals in England are equipped with these wards, two of which are in the capital – the Royal Free and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
Access to these units is restricted to a team of trained medical staff who are made to wear protective gowns, face masks, visors and gloves before entering.
In some cases, a specially-designed tent with a ventilator is set up around the patient’s bed which allows staff to treat and feed them without physically touching them.
Direct flights from Beijing to London Gatwick are still available to buy online. British airlines have all stopped flying routes to and from China but Chinese airlines are still active
UK health bosses are on red alert for more cases of the deadly virus on home soil after a York University student and his mother were confirmed to have it last week
The witness who filmed the incident on Tuesday night said a dozen or so University of York students live in the home where the woman was collected
The 220-room Staycity Hotel in the centre of York – a short walk from the Minster – is less than a mile away from the property where the most recent patient was collected by hazmat-wearing medics. The first two coronavirus patients had stayed at the hotel last week
The death toll jumped by more than 70 overnight, taking total deaths to 565 since January 20
The number of people infected with the coronavirus has soared since late January. The true toll is expected to be considerably higher as many may have such mild symptoms they never get diagnosed
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE THREE CORONAVIRUS CASES IN THE UK?
THE FIRST TWO CASES
A University of York student and his mother became the first two confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus on British soil when they were diagnosed on January 31. But neither have been named.
Health officials repeatedly refused to give any details about the two cases, citing ‘patient confidentially’, and knocked back questions about where and when they entered Britain.
But MailOnline later that same day revealed the pair had stayed at a budget hotel in York.
Sources at the Staycity apart-hotel said the pair – who had been whisked away by paramedics on January 31 – never returned or collected their suitcases, clothing or toiletries.
It is thought their toiletries remain sealed in their room. Officials have already paid for a sterilisation company to disinfect the room the pair stayed in, as well as surrounding ones. It is not clear if they are open again but the £49-a-night hotel is still operating.
Sources then confirmed that both the infected patients had been whisked off to quarantine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, one of four specialist centres in the UK set-up to treat contagious airborne infections. The patients are still there being treated.
The University of York confirmed one of the patients was a student on February 1. In hope of quashing fears, it said the infected student had not stepped foot on campus before or after he caught the virus. It was later revealed that the second patient was his mother.
THE THIRD CASE
The patient is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and whisked off to a specialist infectious diseases unit at a London hospital, where they will be kept in isolation for at least two weeks.
Only four hospitals in England are equipped with these wards, two of which are in the capital – the Royal Free and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The others are in Newcastle and Liverpool.
Public Health England said the patient did not catch the highly contagious disease in the UK, suggesting they had recently flown back from China. Officials have so far refused to offer any more details about the patient.
But there has been no flights into the UK from Wuhan since January 22, when Chinese authorities made the unprecedented decision to put the city into lockdown and ground all flights to fight the outbreak.
London Gatwick, the closest airport to Brighton – just 27miles (44km) north of the seaside city, has direct flights from Shanghai, another Chinese city that has recorded cases of the killer virus.
The latest incident occurred a mile away from the Staycity hotel where the first two confirmed coronavirus patients – a York University student and his mother – were staying.
The witness who filmed the incident on Tuesday said a dozen or so University of York students lived in the home where the woman was collected.
They added that the ambulance arrived and took her away without sounding the siren. ‘It is a student house with about four or five people living in, so it is most likely she was a student,’ they said.
‘I imagine the people in the house were concerned. I was just visiting someone on the street, but it was scary to see. The obvious concern is that it is another coronavirus case, which is worrying.’
Public Health England refused to comment on the video, saying it will not ‘be providing rolling updates on suspected cases’.
Dr Michael Head, a senior researcher in global health at the University of Southampton, said it was ‘not surprising’ to see a third case.
He added: ‘It has been expected that the UK would see more than just the two previous cases. Therefore, public health and NHS authorities will be well prepared to deal with and follow-up on this news.
‘Clearly the outbreak is at a very important point, both globally and here in the UK. It looks at this stage like the infection is imported, rather than acquired through human-to-human transmission within the UK.
‘So far, outside of China, there has been very limited human transmission of the coronavirus, which is good news in terms of potentially being able to contain the international spread.’
The UK Government has been slammed for its handling of the epidemic so far for leaving UK nationals trapped in China in limbo, and not having proper screening in place for travellers from the disease-stricken country.
Scores of passengers fleeing the coronavirus-hit country have been pouring into Britain every day without being tested for the virus, prompting calls for a blanket travel ban similar to that imposed by the US, Australia and New Zealand.
But the UK is still bound to EU immigration laws and obligated to fall in line with any decisions on travel restrictions made by the bloc until the end of the year, despite having technically left on January 31.
The Government is said to be considering imposing the ban anyway, against the will of Brussels. But sources say it would be pointless if the EU does not follow suit as passengers could still enter Britain indirectly via another EU state due to freedom of movement rules.
‘What is the point in one of you banning flights if none of the others are going to do it?’ a senior government source told MailOnline. ‘Because you just get in by an indirect route.’
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said last night: ‘We can monitor flights from China landing back in the UK but we can’t monitor those landing from China in the rest of Europe. EU freedom of movement does make us more vulnerable.’
Meanwhile Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth attacked the Government for being ‘irresponsible’ in demanding all citizens return home without offering any help.
He said: ‘If Dominic Raab is saying everybody needs to return to the UK then I’m afraid the government has to do more to get those nationals home. You can’t just make those announcements and not offer any serious help.
‘The government can put in place plans to get them on flights, they can charter more flights if they think it is important as they presumably do because Mr Raab has said they should come home.’
Saudi Arabia today became the 16th nation to ban travellers from coronavirus-hit China from entering the country. A total of 31 countries have imposed some form of travel ban or to have suspended all flights to the mainland
Revealed: The UK Government’s ‘shambolic’ response to the outbreak so far
The Foreign Office has been accused of poor organisation during the coronavirus outbreak and of leaving British citizens in China to ‘fend for themselves’.
Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, said: ‘From the very start of this outbreak, the government’s response has been a total shambles, and now they appear to be telling British nationals in China simply to fend for themselves in terms of getting out of the country.
‘How on earth has the Foreign Office not got plans and protocols in place for how these crises are managed?’
Her comment followed a slew of shortcomings over the past two weeks that included:
Dragging its feet before chartering an airlift
When the epidemic started to ramp up in late January, the US, France and Japan all evacuated hundreds of citizens on chartered planes.
Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia and India all announced plans to rescue expats before Britain did.
It wasn’t until January 30 that the first wave of British nationals were flown home.
Giving just two hours’ notice before evacuating
When the dithering Government finally organised the airlift, it gave stranded Britons just two hours’ notice before taking off.
This made it impossible for some citizens to make it to the airport on time because Wuhan was on lockdown, with public transport banned.
Leaving expats to make their own way to the airport
The Foreign Office made no attempt to arrange buses or taxis to transport British citizens to Wuhan airport.
With the city completely sealed off, this reportedly made it impossible for Britons in the wider Hubei province to make the flight.
British nationals told to abandon their loved ones
Desperate expats were told there were no guarantees their Chinese partners or children would get on the rescue plane because Beijing was stopping its own citizens from leaving.
Bus drivers did not wear masks
Coach drivers who picked up the evacuees from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire when they landed from Wuhan were photographed without any protective gear.
It came despite the highly contagious virus being able to spread via a simple cough or sneeze, or by living on inanimate objects such as door handles and seats.
The photos were even more jarring because medics in full hazmat suits were seen directly beside the bus drivers.
Hotel with first confirmed cases allowed to operate as normal
The first two patients to have confirmed coronavirus in the UK were staying in the Staycity hotel in York.
The budget hotel said it was ‘left in the dark’ by the Government who refused to tell it whether its customers had in fact been infected with the disease.
The hotel was told to ‘operate as normal’ but keep the room the patients were staying in shut and their belongings inside.
This meant dozens of unwitting customers continued to stay and touch door knobs, cutlery and counter tops that may have been handled by the infected pair.
Asked whether the government should be paying for people to return to the UK, he said: ‘The Foreign Secretary cannot make these statements and not back them up with any action.’
The kingdom has barred its citizens from going to mainland China and suggested it would tear up the passports of anyone who defied the ban.
The virus hasn’t yet been detected in Saudi Arabia, but five cases, including a family-of-four from Wuhan, have been confirmed in neighbouring United Arab Emirates.
Fifteen other nations and territories have imposed some form of travel restrictions, including the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
As of 5 February, a total of 566 UK tests have concluded, of which 563 were confirmed negative and three positive.
York Central MP Rachel Maskell attacked officials for not being transparent with the panicked public amid the outbreak.
She said: ‘It is crucial that the public are kept informed of developments associated with the Coronavirus infection.
‘I have raised this twice in the House of Commons this week and am awaiting a further meeting with the Minister.’
The first confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the UK – an unnamed Chinese male student from York University and his mother – were diagnosed last Friday.
The pair had been staying at the £50-a-night Staycity Aparthotel in the city when they were taken ill last Wednesday.
A spokesman for the University of York insisted the student confirmed to have contracted the deadly virus did not set foot on campus or in student halls after returning from China.
A statement said: ‘The affected student did not come into contact with the virus on campus or in the Vita accommodation… We understand that this update will cause concern, and we would like to stress that the level of risk remains negligible.’
China’s ambassador to the UK today criticised the Foreign Office’s advice for all 30,000 of its citizens in mainland China to come home, urging the Government to take ‘professional advice’ from the World Health Organization.
At a press conference today, Liu Xiaoming said: ‘[There] should be no panic, no overreaction. We advise the British side to take professional advice of WHO.
‘They told us they will follow WHO’s advice. It seems to me the words do not match with the deeds.
‘Life is still normal in most parts of China so I do say again in private and public I hope the British Government and public take an objective, cool-headed view of what is going on. We should support each other rather than weaken the other’s efforts.’
It comes after scientists revealed they are close to giving the coronavirus an official name.
Although the subject of news articles, social media posts and political discussions throughout the past month, the virus has not yet got an approved name.
It has been dubbed 2019-nCoV, which means it is a novel (new) type of coronavirus discovered in 2019, but this is just a temporary placeholder.
Other unofficial, potentially inaccurate, names for it have emerged, including the China coronavirus, Wuhan coronavirus and even ‘snake flu’.
But scientists at the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) say they have chosen a name for the bug and submitted it for official approval.
Patients infected with the coronavirus are pictured arriving at a makeshift hospital in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak
A medical worker in East Java, Indonesia, examines an isolation chamber which could be used to contain people with the contagious coronavirus
A makeshift hospital in Wuhan has started accepting patients infected with coronavirus
WUHAN CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild lung infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can the Wuhan coronavirus kill?
Yes – 362 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Some people who catch the Wuhan coronavirus may not have any symptoms at all, or only very mild ones like a sore throat or a headache.
Others may suffer from a fever, cough or trouble breathing.
And a small proportion of patients will go on to develop severe infection which can damage the lungs or cause pneumonia, a life-threatening condition which causes swelling and fluid build-up in the lungs.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China and countries around the world have used this to create lab tests, which must be carried out to confirm an infection.
Delays to these tests, to test results and to people getting to hospitals in China, mean the number of confirmed cases is expected to be just a fraction of the true scale of the outbreak.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified around China and are known to have spread from person to person.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE
The researchers have not revealed the name they settled on but say it could be announced within days.
It must not contain geography, human names or cultural references, they said, to avoid abusive backlash or potential racism, and it should avoid animal or food names because they could be inaccurate.
Meanwhile, an email was leaked between Boris Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson and China’s ambassador to the UK that appeared to show Beijing moaning that the Prime Minister had praised it for its response to the outbreak.
The Prime Minister’s father accidentally included someone at the BBC in the list of officials he sent an email to after meeting the Chinese ambassador to discuss environmental matters.
The BBC reported that Mr Johnson Snr wrote: ‘Re the outbreak of coronavirus, Mr Liu obviously was concerned that there had not yet – so he asserted – been direct contact between the PM and Chinese head of state or government in terms of a personal message or telephone call.’
Downing Street said Mr Johnson Snr is a private citizen and was not acting for the Government in any official or unofficial capacity.
In other developments, more than 80 UK citizens and family members who were the first to be quarantined at Arrow Park Hospital on the Wirral have been told they can leave next Thursday.
The group are spending 14 days in isolation but will be released next week as long as they remain symptom-free.
Meanwhile, 78 people with British passports – including crew – are currently in quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, sources told the PA news agency.
Health workers in the port city of Yokohama said on Thursday that 10 more people on the Princess Cruises vessel had tested positive for the disease, in addition to 10 others on Wednesday when the ship was ordered to be isolated.
As those 20 people received treatment at nearby hospitals and the remaining passengers were confined to their cabins, Briton David Abel said medical examinations aimed at detecting new cases on board had seemed to have stopped over the past few days.
Mr Abel, who is on board with his wife, added: ‘And what happens at the end of this quarantine period? There’s no guarantee it’s going to be 14 days now. It could be longer.
‘And what happens when we finally get back to the UK? Are we going to be put in quarantine yet again for another 14 days?
‘These are questions I need answered. I’m going to be contacting the UK Government … to find out.’ Sources say no British people on the ship have tested positive for coronavirus so far. There are no plans to fly anyone off the ship and back to the UK at the moment.
A separate ship in Hong Kong, the World Dream, has about 66 British passport-holders on board, officials say. Nobody on that ship – of any nationality – has tested positive for the virus.
MailOnline understands that passengers are unable to leave the ship but are not in quarantine and can move around freely on board.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director of the organisation, yesterday held a conference at which he called for donations totalling £521million ($675m).
More than 28,000 people have now been infected with the coronavirus in China, as well as 260 in other countries, and 565 have died.
The WHO money will be used for ‘frontline efforts’ to help countries contain the virus and to fund scientists trying to create a vaccine, as well as helping poor countries – potentially African nations – to prepare for possible infections.
Dr Ghebreyesus’s rallying call comes as a leading statistician in the UK predicts another 3,000 people in China could die of the virus by the end of the month.
Dr Jarman said thousands more people are expected to die in the outbreak before the month is out
Dr Brian Jarman predicted that cases could soar to almost 200,000 by the end of February if the outbreak carries on as it has for the past couple of weeks
Which countries have banned people from China entering?
The US has temporarily banned any non-US citizens who have been to China in the past two weeks from entering America.
Australia has banned entry for any Chinese travellers or foreign passengers who been to China within the last 14 days or even have passed through the mainland during a layover.
New Zealand has closed its borders to any foreigners arriving from China after February 2, including passengers who passed through in transit.
Japan has barred entry for anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus and no travellers from Wuhan are allowed to enter – even if they don’t have symptoms.
Mongolian citizens have until February 6 to return to their home country if they want to. Travellers from China – whether they are Chinese or not – are not allowed to enter the country.
North Korea was one of the first countries to completely shut its borders to travellers and flights from China, introducing the measure on January 21.
Officials have suspended all forms of passenger travel to and from neighbouring China. The country has also suspended the issuance of visas to Chinese citizens.
Authorities have decided to ban entry to all foreign nationals who have visited mainland China in the past two weeks.
Singapore has banned travellers who have been to mainland China in the past 14 days.
South Korea has banned all foreign travellers who have passed through Wuhan in the past 14 days.
Authorities banned all travellers from China, Hong Kong and Macau – except for Filipino citizens and holders of permanent residency visas.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Papua New Guinea has shut its air and seaports to all foreign travellers from Asia. Its land border with West Papua has also been closed.
Iraq has banned entry for all foreign nationals travelling from China.
Guatemala has banned non-resident travellers who had been to China in the past two weeks.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
Trinidad & Tobago have banned non-resident travellers who had been to China in the past two weeks.
Announced today it was barring anyone coming into the country from China. Any citizens who leave for the disease-ridden country will have their passports torn up.
Dr Brian Jarman, a retired doctor and former president of the British Medical Association, said 199,000 people could have been infected by February 29.
Dr Jarman, whose statistics work helped expose the NHS Mid-Staffordshire scandal which found death rates were higher than official figures showed, said he found the rate of the coronavirus spreading ‘very worrying’ because people appear not to know they are infecting others.
‘We are requesting 675 million US dollars to fund the plan for the next three months,’ Dr Ghebreyesus said.
‘Sixty million of that is to fund WHO’s operations; the rest is for the countries that are especially at risk and who need our support.
‘Our message to the international community is “invest today or pay more later”. Invest today or pay more later.’
It is not clear which countries Dr Ghebreyesus was referring to, but the WHO has in the recent past suggested African nations could be devastated if the virus were to spread to the continent.
There have not yet been any confirmed cases in any African countries.
He added: ‘My biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge.
‘Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.’
Although international spread has been very limited so far – accounting for just one per cent of all cases – there is still a risk of numbers surging outside of China.
Inside China the outbreak is continue to spread rapidly and thousands more people are being diagnosed with the coronavirus every day, most of them in the city of Wuhan and the Hubei province.
Dr Brian Jarman, an retired professor from Imperial College London, has used statistics to predict how the outbreak could progress over the next three weeks.
He worked out how many new cases are being diagnosed each day and the rate at which this is increasing, then applied it as a formula to the next 22 days.
Dr Jarman found that there could be 31,810 cases and 636 deaths by the end of today, February 6.
By February 13, this could rise to 67,409 cases and 1,304 deaths.
By February 20, 116,444 cases and 2,214 deaths and, by February 29, 199,230 cases and 3,741 deaths.
The calculations assume that the outbreak will continue to escalate at its current rate. He said predicting any further ahead in the same way would be inaccurate because the virus should soon start to slow down naturally.
Dr Jarman said: ‘I find it very worrying both medically, because the infection seems to have a relatively long incubation period and therefore people are infective for a longer time before they realise they may have the disease, and financially because China is so important to the world economy.’
At the World Health Organization conference yesterday, officials also appeared to take a stab at the UK Government’s advice for citizens to leave China, but not to screen those who return to Britain.
Speaking in Geneva, Dr Michael Ryan, executive director at WHO, said: ‘A situation where many individuals are potentially leaving the country [China] – we don’t believe those individuals are necessarily at the highest risk.
‘But an unplanned measure like that needs to be accompanied with the necessary screening and the necessary public health measures to ensure that.’
And WHO director general Dr Ghebreyesus scoffed at the idea of a blanket travel ban, saying it was unnecessary.
He added: ‘We call on all countries to make their decision based on evidence, not just a blanket coverage.
‘Even in China there are provinces with very few cases, like other countries neighbouring [China] and beyond. I think that is very important to consider.’
How will coronavirus patients be treated in the UK?
The first two patients are being treated in a specialist infectious diseases unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The third is thought to be receiving care in either the Royal Free or Guy’s and St Thomas’, both of which are in London.
Access to these units is restricted to the team of specially trained medical staff who are made to wear protective gowns, face masks, visors and gloves before entering. This must all be disposed of and put into a decontamination facility as soon as they leave.
There are various facilities in place in these wards, including a laboratory for carrying out tests on infectious patients and dedicated waste units to avoid contamination with regular rubbish.
The air in the ward is funneled through its own filter to remove the risk of infection spreading through the air inside the hospital.
Professor Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline the treatment the patients get will depend on their condition. No official information has emerged about how severely ill they are.
Mild symptoms could be treated with paracetamol, whereas more serious patients may need oxygen supplies or intensive care.
He said the patients would have throat swabs each day to test whether they are still infectious. It is not clear what the conditions of their release will be.
How do I know if I have the virus? What are the symptoms and how is it spread?
Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms. It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
Is the British public at risk of catching the virus? Should I be worried?
The general consensus is that the British public is not at risk.
In China, a country of around 1.4billion people, only around 10,000 people were infected to an extent which made them ill enough to get diagnosed in the first month of the outbreak.
That is a rate of 0.0007 per cent. Although the true number of cases is believed to be much higher, scientists say that many people would get such mild symptoms they wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t consider going to a doctor.
CORONAVIRUS COULD SPREAD ON SURFACES, WARNS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Coronavirus could spread on surfaces, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.
There is evidence that the coronavirus ‘can also be spread via fomites – when the virus survives on inanimate surfaces for a short period of time,’ said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a member of the WHO’s emergency committee on the outbreak.
If the possibility becomes a certainty, it’s a worrying revelation for hospital settings, where patients coming to be diagnosed and treated for coronavirus may touch chairs, tables, beds, railings and much more.
WHO officials are careful to note that it’s not yet clear how contagious the new virus is, but its ability to be transferred from surfaces to people could speed its already alarming spread.
Experts estimate that the virus has an incubation between two and 14 days – although a small subset of cases suggest that it may be transmissible even before symptoms begin.
As of 31 January, a total of 177 UK tests have concluded, of which 175 were confirmed negative and two positive.
Public Health England said on Thursday, January 30: ‘We are advising an increase of the UK risk level from low to moderate.
‘This does not mean we think the risk to individuals in the UK has changed at this stage, but that government should plan for all eventualities.
‘As we have previously said, it is likely there will be individual cases and we are confident in the ability of the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales and HSC in Northern Ireland to manage these in a way that protects the public and provides high quality care.’
The risk of infection is too low for people in the UK to do anything proactive other than practice good hygiene at all times.
If I catch the virus, will it kill me?
The virus has so far killed 2 per cent of everyone it has officially infected. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower.
Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.
The RVI (pictured) is only one of two hospitals in England with the specialised ward, the other being the Royal Free Hospital in London
COACH DRIVERS MAY NOT BE QUARANTINED AFTER EVACUATION
Reading coach firm, Horseman, has sent at least seven buses to RAF Brize Norton to pick up the evacuated passengers from China.
The coaches are being driven by drivers employed by the company, all of whom agreed to do the job.
The company refused to say whether the drivers would be quarantined afterwards, but said the buses would be ‘deep cleaned’.
The Horseman Coaches spokesman told the PA news agency: ‘The Department for Health have procedures in place for the vehicles to be deep cleaned.
‘That is part of the process of this undertaking, which will happen as soon as the vehicles are clear. I can give everybody assurance that everything will be cleansed sufficiently.’
The spokesman declined to comment on whether or not the drivers – staff members of Horseman Coaches – would also have to be put in isolation.
‘I can’t comment any further on that I’m afraid,’ he said.
Horseman Coaches is a private coach hire company operating throughout Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Slough, West Berkshire and across the south east carrying more than 9,000 passengers each day, according to the company’s website.
Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed.
Can the virus be cured?
The Wuhan coronavirus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above. Scientists across the world are desperately trying to make one.
What even is a coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it. It is not a type of flu.
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly
WHY ARE EXPERTS SO WORRIED ABOUT THE VIRUS?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
What can I do to protect myself?
Currently, only people who have travelled to Wuhan in China or been in contact with somebody travelling from there are considered to be at a high risk of catching the virus.
To avoid catching the virus people should simply avoid close contact with people who have been to Wuhan and practice good hygiene at all times.
Good hygiene includes washing your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol gel, keeping food preparation surfaces and cutlery clean, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze – and make sure others don’t cough or sneeze on you – and avoid contact with people who have cold- or flu-like symptoms.
If you feel ill and have reason to suspect it might be the coronavirus – that is, you have been to China or been in contact with someone who has – you should phone NHS 111 or your local GP surgery. Do not go outside and interact with anyone else, and do not go to a GP surgery or hospital in person unless told to do so.
What do I do if I fear a loved one has the virus?
If you fear a loved one has the virus, you should not take them to the GP. Instead, you should call NHS 111 and tell them of any symptoms.
Doctors are unlikely to send out paramedics in hazmat suits for anyone who is poorly but patients who have travel history that puts them at risk may get rushed to hospital for tests.
Make sure you practice good hygiene and keep them isolated as much as possible to prevent the virus spreading.
Stop them from coming with anyone else – especially patients who have weakened immune systems, such as your elderly relatives and those with chronic conditions.
Photos from the runway at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire show paramedics, coach drivers and other staff greeting and even shaking hands with the passengers, who are on their way to be quarantined for two weeks
Passengers are greeted by workers on the runway – one of the British workers appears to shake hands with a passenger while another is not wearing a mask
‘DETECTIVES NEEDED’ TO TRACK DOWN THOSE IN CONTACT WITH CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS
Health officials in the UK will need to carry out detective work in order to track down people who have been in contact with coronavirus cases, experts have said.
The first cases of the new virus have been diagnosed in England, with two people from the same family being treated at a specialist centre at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
An outbreak investigation team has been formed to trace anyone who has been in contact with the pair to prevent onward transmission.
Professor Jimmy Whitworth, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that tracking people who have come into contact with an infected case will take a lot of detective work.
He added: ‘What you don’t want is this to spread any more in the community.
‘It would be a question of essentially a lot of detective work in identifying who are the people that the cases have been into contact with, tracking them down, and monitoring and testing them.
‘Now we believe that people can be infected before they actually show symptoms, that means cases and contacts will need to be tested to see if they are infected or not.’
The professor of international public health said that officials will likely prioritise people who came closest to the two cases.
He added: ‘At the moment, Public Health England (PHE) will be giving priority to those who will have got the closest to these individuals.
‘My anticipation is that it would be only people who were in close proximity to these individuals who would be at risk, those will be the people who they [PHE] try to identify.
‘But of course it is difficult to track people down.’
What do we know about the evacuees?
The UK Government sent a chartered flight to Wuhan Tianhe Airport on on the night of January 30/31 and brought back 83 citizens who were stranded there. The airport is closed to commercial flights, there is no public transport and there are roadblocks around the city, preventing people from leaving.
According to reports from the people who had booked seats on the flight, the Foreign Office gave them around two hours’ notice to get to a meeting point near the airport by 11pm local time on Thursday night (3pm UK time).
Some of them said they were unable to make it to the airport in time so they stayed behind in Wuhan.
They then had medical checks and were told to sign a waiver agreeing to allow the Government to place them in forced isolation for a fortnight when they arrived.
They then boarded a plane which later left at 9.45am on Friday (1.45am Friday UK time). The flight was on a plane chartered from Spanish airline Wamos, whose crew operated the flight alongside RAF personnel and Army medics.
It landed at RAF Brize Norton, a military airfield in Oxfordshire, at 1.30pm UK time on Friday, after a 12-hour journey.
The Britons shared the flight with 27 people of other nationalities, reportedly mostly Spanish citizens, who were taken onwards to Madrid on the same plane.
What will happen to the British evacuees?
After arriving at the airfield in Oxfordshire, the evacuees were loaded onto coaches hired from Berkshire company, Horseman. They were driven to Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral Merseyside, where they will be kept in isolation for two weeks.
Scientists believe the coronavirus has an incubation period – the time between it entering the body and the last point at which it could cause symptoms – of around 14 days. This means anyone who does not get ill within two weeks of being exposed to the virus can be considered infection-free.
The evacuees will spend this incubation period cut off from the general public. British crew members from the plane will also be put in quarantine. They will spend the time in an accommodation block which is separated from the main Arrowe Park hospital and will be constantly monitored for signs of infection.
If anyone is found to be infected with the coronavirus they will be taken to a specialist hospital – likely the Royal Liverpool – which has the facilities to contain and treat them.
During their incubation time they will be allowed to live normally, with contact with the outside world, access to outdoor space and internet access, but they will not be allowed to physically meet with anyone who was not on the flightIf they make it through the two weeks without showing signs of infection they will be free to go.