Coronavirus: Hundreds of people contacted after UK bus summit case confirmed

14 February 2020, 21:12 | Updated: 14 February 2020, 21:16

More than 200 people have been contacted
More than 200 people have been contacted. Picture: PA
Maddie Goodfellow

By Maddie Goodfellow

More than 200 people have been contacted after being put at risk of coronavirus when they attended a conference in central London where a delegate was struck down with the disease.

Public Health England (PHE) sent a letter to those who were at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre in Westminster on February 6, including several MPs, two of whom have now decided to stay mostly at home.

The person taken ill is one of the nine people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK.

Dr Yimmy Chow, consultant in health protection at PHE, said: "One of our main priorities has been to identify any people who we think have been in close contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 to provide public health advice, as they may be at slightly increased risk of catching the virus.

"While the degree of contact conference delegates may have had with the case is unlikely to have been significant, we have taken a precautionary approach and informed them of the situation."

It is thought the bus summit case is not linked to the UK's ninth case of coronavirus, who is a Chinese woman.

UK commuters are being warned about coronavirus risks
UK commuters are being warned about coronavirus risks. Picture: PA

The Transport Times emailed delegates and enclosed a letter from PHE saying they should take no action if they were well but to stay indoors, avoid contact with others and call NHS 111 if they developed symptoms such as a fever or cough.

"While the degree of contact you may have had with the case at the summit is unlikely to have been significant, we are taking a precautionary approach and informing you," the letter said.

The bus conference listed about 250 delegates from the nationwide bus and transport industry.

Among the speakers were buses minister Baroness Vere and former parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Nusrat Ghani.

Labour MPs Alex Sobel and Lillian Greenwood are in self-isolation
Labour MPs Alex Sobel and Lillian Greenwood are in self-isolation. Picture: PA

Labour MP for Nottingham South Lilian Greenwood, who also spoke at the summit, tweeted that she had received PHE's letter and had decided to cancel appointments.

She added: "I'm feeling completely well but to be extra-cautious I'm cancelling my public engagements until 20th February. Sorry for any inconvenience."

Labour MP for Leeds North West Alex Sobel, who also attended the summit, said he feels well but has decided to follow advice and stay home.

He has cancelled engagements until the end of next week.

He said: "Public Health England gave the advice that I should take reasonable precautions.

"Right now I should be at surgeries with constituents. We thought it a reasonable caution to self-isolate until next Wednesday evening.

"I'm fine. I've got no fever. But as you can present after up to 14 days, I've taken these precautionary measures."

Another attendee said: "We all received an email. The advice was 'just carry on if you're feeling fine, if you're not, lock yourself up'."

He said he had no symptoms.

It comes as United Airlines confirmed it offered assistance at Heathrow Airport on Friday after a passenger fell ill on one flight.

Reports on social media suggested the person involved may have had symptoms of coronavirus.

At least one more plane has been held at Heathrow for checks.

United Airlines said in a statement: "Our team at London Heathrow Airport is providing assistance related to United flight 901 (San Francisco-London Heathrow) today, following reports of an individual becoming unwell onboard.

"The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority and we continue to work closely with local authorities."

Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, said that passengers were warned by the United plane's captain that they could be on the tarmac for a while because "seven other planes" in the same situation had also landed at Heathrow.

He did not see the ill person or any medics enter the aircraft.

Passengers were allowed to disembark half-an-hour later after filling out forms asking for their contact details and to confirm they did not have any symptoms of coronavirus.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said on Thursday that many more people in the UK may need to self-isolate to contain the illness, which has been officially named Covid-19.

It comes as it emerged that the woman who is the UK's ninth case of coronavirus took an Uber to A&E after she developed symptoms.

Two staff from Lewisham Hospital in south London are now in isolation at home after coming into contact with the woman.

The 81 people being held in quarantine at Arrow Park have been let out this week
The 81 people being held in quarantine at Arrow Park have been let out this week. Picture: PA

Meanwhile, a Channel 4 employee is among those being tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell following a trip to Asia.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "On Thursday a member of staff at Channel 4 who had travelled to Asia within the last month felt unwell.

"As a precautionary measure they decided to seek medical advice and, in line with the latest public health advice regarding the coronavirus, they were taken to hospital for a precautionary test. We have informed our staff of this and continue to follow all the latest public health guidance."

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said on Thursday that many more people in the UK may need to self-isolate to contain the illness, which has been officially named Covid-19.

Also on Thursday, more than 80 people quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral were allowed to leave following 14 days in isolation, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirming they pose "no risk to the public".

In China, the number of deaths from coronavirus has reached 1,380, with more than 63,000 recorded infections, in figures announced early on Friday morning.

A total of 44 more people on quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess in Japan have tested positive for Covid-19.

Two of those are Britons, taking the number of Britons on the ship diagnosed with coronavirus to three.

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