Brighton & Hove has acquired the dubious distinction of being the UK’s third place to report a case of Coronavirus. This individual did not become infected in the UK and has now been transferred to a specialist centre. “The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had,” said Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty in a statement released yesterday.
As of Thurs 6 Feb, 566 UK tests have concluded, of which 563 were confirmed negative and three confirmed positive.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
What actually is Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms include fever and a cough which may progress to severe pneumonia, causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Coronavirus is classified as a high-consequence infectious disease. It’s spread by respiratory droplets or aerosol transmission, in addition to contact routes of transmission.
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.
The current infection, Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov), manifests as flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough or difficulty breathing. The current evidence is most cases appear to be mild. Those who have died in China’s Wuhan Province appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.
I’ve just come back from Asia, is this a problem?
If you have travelled from China’s Wuhan or Hubei provinces to the UK in the last 14-days, then you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people where possible. Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the area. This is a precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of infection. People are being asked to take simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, like they would with other flu viruses.
Anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath, should stay indoors and call NHS 111 – even if these symptoms are mild.
Will it affect travel?
If you are travelling, or living overseas, you should check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for updated travel advice. Currently, UK nationals are advised to leave China where possible. If the situation escalates the pressure on the Chinese health system may intensify, and it may become harder for people to travel.
Possible further spread of Coronavirus is being prevented by advanced monitoring at airports. A public health team is working at Heathrow to support anyone travelling in from China who feels unwell. This is in addition to medical staff who are already permanently in place at all UK airports. China has also introduced port-of-exit screening so people already exhibiting symptoms are not allowed to leave the country.
How is Coronavirus being dealt with?
Individuals displaying symptoms are being treated in isolation. When a doctor suspects there’s a case of novel coronavirus, they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory system. These samples are sent to Public Health England (PHE), who then provide a same-day laboratory result. The UK is one of the first countries outside China to have a specific test for this new disease.
After the experience of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, PHE developed a series of diagnostic tests to detect any member of the family of coronaviruses. These tests were able to detect the first UK case of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012. PHE was able to rapidly develop further specific tests for this current virus, working with WHO and global network of laboratories.
What does it mean for me?
Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the risk to the British public has now been raised from low to moderate, allowing the UK government to plan for all eventualities. However, the day-to-day risk for individuals remains low. Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
How can I avoid catching it?
Infections like Coronavirus can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. Cover your mouth with a tissue or an elbow when coughing or sensing, to cut down on the possibility of transmitting germs either into the air or onto your hands. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly (for at least 30 seconds) and dry them properly – especially after sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your face or other people with unwashed hands. Hand sanitiser is a sensible precaution. Avoid close contact with people who have active symptoms. If you genuinely believe you have developed symptoms, stay at home and seek medical advice.