More people across UK show symptoms of deadly China infection, coronavirus
London, Jan. 24, 2020 (AltAfrica)-More than a dozen people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus, as the health secretary warned there is an “increased likelihood” of cases occurring.
Already fourteen people who show symptoms of the killer virus have been tested for the virus, with five confirmed negative and nine still awaiting results, Public Health England (PHE) said on Thursday night.
Earlier, it emerged six people were being tested in hospitals in Scotland and Northern Ireland after showing symptoms.
PHE would not give a breakdown of where the people were tested and where the negative results were recorded
So far the disease has killed 25 people globally and infected more than 800.
Cases have been reported in the US, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong there are more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus, which has killed 18 people in China.
All the patients had been in Wuhan – the Chinese city where the new strain of the virus, which can cause lung disease such as pneumonia, first emerged – in the last 14 days.
One man is being treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast – he is thought to have been admitted with a high temperature.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the tests were “purely precautionary”.
It is likely to be several days before tests will confirm whether they have contracted coronavirus or not.
The UK is monitoring flights arriving from China as a precaution.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said that it was a “rapidly developing situation and the number of deaths and the number of cases is likely to be higher than those that have been confirmed so far and I expect them to rise further”.
He told MPs: “The chief medical officer has revised the risk to the UK population from ‘very low’ to ‘low’ and has concluded that while there is an increased likelihood that cases may arise in this country, we are well prepared and well equipped to deal with them.”
He added: “The UK is one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for the new coronavirus.
“The NHS is ready to respond appropriately to any cases that emerge.”
However the World Health Organization’s emergency committee said on Thursday that it was “too early” to declare an international public health emergency over the outbreak.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said: “Make no mistake. This is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.
“I wish to reiterate, the fact that I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern today should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious, or that we are not taking it seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth. WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”
Referring to the Scottish cases, Prof Jürgen Haas, the head of infection medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said he believed there would be many more in other parts of the UK.
The Scottish patients all travelled from Wuhan, where the outbreak is thought to have originated, within the past two weeks and were showing symptoms of respiratory trouble – a red flag for the virus.
A Scottish government spokesman said: “Following travel to Wuhan, China, two people confirmed as diagnosed with influenza are now being tested for Wuhan novel coronavirus as a precautionary measure only. Three further people are also undergoing testing on a similar precautionary basis.”
Haas said there were “robust arrangements” in place to manage emerging diseases and they were monitoring the situation closely.
He said the cases emerged overnight, adding: “The situation will be pretty similar in pretty much all UK cities with a large number of Chinese students. It’s not too surprising. My suspicion is that there will probably be many more cases in many other cities in the UK.”