14 people in UK hospitals tested for coronavirus with five negative results

23 January 2020, 23:11 | Updated: 24 January 2020, 00:40

Coronavirus is feared to have reached the UK
Coronavirus is feared to have reached the UK. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

14 people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus, with five confirmed negative and nine still awaiting the results, Public Health England said.

PHE would not give a breakdown of where the people were tested and where the negative results were recorded.

It had earlier been thought that just six patients had been tested, with five in Scotland and one reported in Belfast.

The World Health Organisation has said it is "too early" to declare an international public health emergency over the outbreak.

Chinese state media is now reporting that the virus has left 25 people dead, with a further 830 infected.

At least three patients - believed to be Chinese travellers - were admitted to Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital earlier in the week suffering with "flu-like symptoms".

The unidentified patients are understood to be from Wuhan, one of the three cities which have been placed on lockdown in an attempt to stem the spread of the deadly virus.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “There are currently no confirmed cases of Coronavirus (WN Co-V) in Scotland and the risk to the Scottish public remains low.

“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.

“As the situation develops we will update should there be any confirmed cases of Coronavirus, rather than provide a running update on cases being considered on a precautionary basis.

“We are co-orientating with Health Protection Scotland a daily Incident Management Team to continue to monitor the situation as it develops, including on the number of any potential cases going forward.”

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Three of the four patients are being treated at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow
Three of the four patients are being treated at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. Picture: PA

Another person is also reportedly being tested in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Belfast after showing symptoms.

The head of infection medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Jurgen Haas, said he believes there will be many more cases in "many other cities" in the UK.

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.

The virus has led to the lockdown of three Chinese cities
The virus has led to the lockdown of three Chinese cities. Picture: PA

"It's not too surprising. My suspicion is that there will probably be many more cases in many other cities in the UK.

"None of the cases I know of have been confirmed."

He said there is only one laboratory testing for the virus, operated by Public Health England (PHE).

The professor said the cases have been flagged up through the PHE infection guidelines as they travelled to Wuhan within the last 14 days and are showing signs of respiratory symptoms.

Tests are currently being carried out and none of the patients have been confirmed as having the disease.

In China, Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou have all been placed in quarantine and on lockdown in an attempt to stem the outbreak.

Travellers flying into Britain are being screened for signs of the illness, with the first flyers being treated yesterday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the monitoring in the House of Commons today.

People in Wuhan have been advised not to leave the city, in a week when millions of Chinese tourists would normally travel for the upcoming Lunar new year festivities.

"To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science," said Gauden Galea, the World Health Organisation's representative in China.

"It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work."

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the central Chinese city and the World Health Organisation is set to make a decision on declaring an international health emergency would be made on Thursday.

As the death toll rises around the globe screening for signs of the virus is in place at major US airports, while the UK's Transport Secretary told reporters a separate area has been set up at Heathrow to monitor arrivals from the city.

The Chinese state-owned People's Daily newspaper said in a tweet that no one would be allowed to leave the city starting at 10am local time and that train stations and the airport will shut down.

It said that Wuhan authorities would also be shutting down city buses, subways, ferries and long-distance shuttle buses.

The appeal came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) convened a group of independent experts to advise whether the outbreak should be declared a global emergency.

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Director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said more information was needed about the spread of the infection. The committee of health experts will meet again on Thursday.

The number of new cases has risen sharply in China, the centre of the outbreak. Seventeen people have died, all in Hubei province, since the outbreak emerged in its provincial capital of Wuhan late last month. The province has confirmed 444 cases there.

Coronavirus: Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Wuhan

Li Bin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said: "There has already been human-to-human transmission and infection of medical workers.

"Evidence has shown that the disease has been transmitted through the respiratory tract and there is the possibility of viral mutation."

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