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Two cases of coronavirus confirmed in England

The two patients are members of the same family.

Image: Shutterstock/Marbury

Updated Jan 31st 2020, 2:15 PM

THE FIRST CASES of the coronavirus have been diagnosed in the UK, with two people from the same family being treated at a specialist centre.

The announcement was made as more than 80 Britons on an evacuation flight from the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak landed back in the UK.

The two patients are currently being treated by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in its specialist Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease Centre (HCID).

It is understood that they travelled to the UK from China in recent days, had been staying at a hotel in Yorkshire, and are now undergoing treatment at the Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary.

An outbreak investigation team has been formed to trace anyone who has been in contact with the pair to prevent onward transmission.

In a statement, Professor Chris Whitty England’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus.

“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.

“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.

“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

Professor Sharon Peacock from Public Health England said anyone who has been in contact with the two patients in England should self-isolate for 14 days, and if they develop any symptoms they are advised to call 111 or their GP.

She said while staff are currently working to trace people who have been in contact with the pair, they do not currently have “any idea” of how high that number might be.

The British Government said it will send another plane to coronavirus-hit Wuhan to rescue British citizens if needed.

Families had been told that relatives with Chinese passports would be unable to join them after Chinese officials denied them permission to leave the country.

That decision was reversed hours before the plane was due to depart, but some people did not have time to get to the airport.

After several delays, the evacuation flight left Wuhan at 9.45am local time on Friday, carrying 83 Britons and 27 non-UK nationals, mostly from EU countries.

The flight arrived at the Brize Norton RAF base in Oxfordshire at around 1.30pm.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told Sky News on Friday that another plane will be sent if necessary.

He added: “The flight which is in the air at the moment is not the end of our efforts.

“It is only one part that we are doing in order to keep people safe.”

The evacuation flight came after the UK’s four chief medical officers raised the risk level of the illness from low to moderate and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an international public health emergency.

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