Two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this morning.
The DHSC announced that two patients, from the same family, have tested positive for the globally-spreading new form of the virus that originated in Wuhan, China.
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said that the patients are receiving specialist NHS care, with the Government using ‘tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus’.
He added: ‘The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.
‘We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately.
‘We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organisation and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.’
Last night, the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus ‘a public health emergency of international concern’.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel to China’s Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located.
Yesterday, British citizens who had been trapped in Wuhan were transported back to Britain, where they will be quarantined in isolation at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for two weeks.
The chief medical officers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland confirmed yesterday they had advised increase the UK risk level from low to moderate – in a bid to step up preparation efforts.
The chief medical officer of the affected country will announce any further cases ‘as soon as possible’, according to Public Health England (PHE) and the DHSC.
A total of 1,466 passengers and 95 staff arrived in the UK on direct flights from Wuhan between 10th and 24th January. 162 of the passengers have already left the UK, and 760 are now outside of the incubation period.
Until today, at least 161 people had tested negative for the virus in the UK, with PHE providing daily updates.
This news makes England the 23rd country outside of China to declare incidents of the infection, of which almost 10,000 people have been diagnosed and 213 have died.
Last week, PHE issued interim advice to GPs on what to do if their patients present with relevant symptoms, which advised shutting them in a consultation room to prevent any possible infection from spreading.
Later, RCGP president Professor Amanda Howe and a group of primary care experts warned widespread media attention surrounding the outbreak is likely to create more demand for GP appointments in the UK.