Baby 'tested for suspected coronavirus at Northern Ireland hospital'

6 February 2020, 23:02 | Updated: 4 March 2020, 17:47

The child is reportedly undergoing tests at Altnagelvin Hospital
The child is reportedly undergoing tests at Altnagelvin Hospital. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A baby is reportedly being tested for suspected Coronavirus in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The infant, who is understood to be a boy less than six-months-old, arrived into the country after travelling from Hong Kong, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

He was reportedly suffering with flu-like symptoms.

The tot was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital, where he was put in isolation before being allowed to leave.

Witnesses at the hospital claimed they saw the child being met by medics in protective suits.

Other patients waiting in the A&E department reported the department was placed on "lockdown"for some time, and visitors were kept behind police cordons.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust said they would not comment on an individual patient.

Britons returning to the UK have been advised to self-isolate if they begin to feel ill
Britons returning to the UK have been advised to self-isolate if they begin to feel ill. Picture: PA
A worker disinfects an area in China
A worker disinfects an area in China. Picture: PA

The news comes as Britons who have returned to the UK from a list of Asian countries have been told to self-isolate if they feel unwell.

The list includes China, Thailand, Singapore Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Macau.

Anyone arriving from these locations should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if they develop symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath, the advice warns.

So far, health authorities in China said the death toll has risen to 618, with more than 28,000 reportedly infected.

Earlier today, a third person tested positive for coronavirus in the UK after contracting the disease in Asia, but not in mainland China.

England's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty did not say which country the patient was in when they contracted coronavirus, or whether it was caught directly from someone who had been in Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, but it is understood the patient contracted the illness in Singapore.

So far 618 people have died in China
So far 618 people have died in China. Picture: PA

The patient, who is reported to be a middle-aged man, is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and was transferred St Thomas' Hospital in London, where there is an infectious diseases unit, on Thursday afternoon.

Two other patients are still being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle.

Prof Whitty said: "The patient is being transferred to a specialist NHS centre and we are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus.

"The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had."

The new advice for travellers, posted on the Government website, says: "Based on the scientific advice of Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), the UK chief medical officers are advising 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 cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

China has built huge makeshift hospitals in an effort to contain the disease
China has built huge makeshift hospitals in an effort to contain the disease. Picture: PA

"These countries have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and number of reported cases. This list will be kept under review."

Until now, this advice only related to people from Wuhan in China. Anyone with symptoms will be tested for coronavirus.

Prof Whitty said: "We knew this ratchet up might well happen and this is the moment where we feel it's prudent... to make this shift.

"What we have got is a situation where very high risk remains in Wuhan and Hubei, a high risk in the rest of China, but much lower than in Wuhan and Hubei, and then a much smaller risk in a number of countries, and unsurprisingly countries where the greatest risk is in terms of new cases are the ones which have the greatest international traffic with China, and that is exactly as you would expect."

He said there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person onward transmission of the virus outside China.

More than 28,000 have been infected
More than 28,000 have been infected. Picture: PA

The University of Sussex, which has a large campus on the outskirts of Brighton, said in a statement that the new case was not a student or member of staff there.

Health officials are not understood to be "contact tracing" people on any Asia-UK flight the latest sufferer may have travelled on.

The UK Foreign Office has advised Britons in China to leave if they are able to.

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