A WOMAN who is the first to be diagnosed with coronavirus in London walked into A&E after “taking an Uber”.
Two hospital workers from Lewisham hospital in south London are now in isolation at home after coming into contact with the woman.
A woman who was the first person diagnosed with coronavirus in London ‘self-presented’ at Lewisham hospital on Sunday[/caption]
The patient “self-presented” at Lewisham hospital’s A&E unit on Sunday afternoon after feeling unwell.
The Chinese national – who recently flew into the UK – walked up to the reception desk to report her symptoms.
It goes against public health guidance to call NHS 111 if you suspect you might have the new coronavirus.
The woman was tested and sent home in an ambulance while they awaited her results.
When they came back positive yesterday, she was transferred to an isolation unit at St Thomas’ hospital in London for treatment.
Ben Travi, chief executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said: “The patient self-presented at our A&E.
“As soon as the patient did this, the patient was given a mask and then escorted to be tested in the dedicated area we have assigned for coronavirus testing outside the A&E building – while awaiting the installation of a purpose-built ‘pod’.
“As further assessment was required, the patient was then taken to a dedicated isolation room in the emergency department.
“In line with our protocols, throughout their care, the patient was escorted and did not come into contact with other patients.
“The patient was later discharged and taken home by London Ambulance Service.
“All staff who had direct contact with the patient have been contacted, including two members of staff who are undergoing active surveillance at home for a 14-day period as a precautionary measure – following the advice of Public Health England.”
Workers in hazmat suits were pictured cleaning the surgery yesterday[/caption]
Hospital staff told the Guardian they are concerned the patient’s behaviour may have put people in the A&E at risk of coronavirus.
Some were also concerned that the Uber driver who took her there – and others who subsequently travelled in the car – could be at risk.
Dave Smith, the chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Emergency Care Association, told the paper: “It’s worrying to hear that the public aren’t following Public Health England advice about phoning NHS 111 to seek advice, and therefore putting other members of the public and NHS staff at risk of contracting coronavirus.”
It takes the number of cases in the UK to nine as officials scramble to find everyone she had been in contact with.
More to self-isolate
The chief executive of the NHS today warned that many more people in the UK may need to self-isolate in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Sir Simon Stevens issued the warning as more than 80 people quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral left following 14 days in isolation.
The group were the first to be flown out of Wuhan city in China – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – by the Foreign Office and back to the UK.
Sir Simon said: “As our first group of guests leaves Arrowe Park Hospital, we want to thank them for the highly responsible, pragmatic and stoical way they have played their part in keeping both themselves and others safe.
“They have set an important example, recognising that over the coming weeks many more of us may need to self-isolate at home for a period to reduce this virus’s spread.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said those quarantined had been given a clean bill of health and people “can be reassured that their departure presents no risk to the public”.
Stop the spread
Earlier, England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said officials were working on delaying the spread of coronavirus cases throughout the UK.
He said what happens with coronavirus – also known as Covid-19 – could go one of two ways, with the first scenario seeing the Chinese government getting on top of the epidemic and then a limited impact on the rest of the world.
While it is “highly likely” the UK will see more cases, it is possible the epidemic will go away, possibly aided by a change in the seasons which could dampen the spread of the virus, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Prof Whitty said: “The alternative is that it’s not possible to contain in China and this then starts (to spread) – probably initially quite slowly – around the world and then unless the seasons come to our rescue, then it is going to come to a situation where we have it in Europe and the UK in due course.”
What to do if you're worried you've got coronavirus
BRITISH health chiefs have raised the coronavirus risk to the public from low to moderate.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
The majority of those who have been infected with the virus so far have either visited China or been in close contact with someone who has.
But if you are concerned known the signs is one of the best ways to protect yourself from 2019-nCoV.
Symptoms usually include:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- difficulty breathing
In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.
It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.
The best way to prevent catching any form of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene.
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with others.
You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze then throw it away and wash your hands.
Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important.
If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days:
- Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with other flu viruses
- Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the city
- your recent travel to the city
If you are in Northern Ireland, call your GP.
Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.
Meanwhile, leading symptom-checking provider to the NHS Doctorlink has been updated to help identify patients’ risk of having coronavirus.
Prof Whitty said the current UK strategy was focused on containment of individual cases, followed by delaying the spread.
He said: “Delay is the next stage of what we need to do because if we are going to get an outbreak in the UK – this is an if, not a when – but if we do, putting it back in time into the summer period, away from winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better, possibly having some seasonal advantage, is a big advantage.”
Prof Whitty urged the public to keep doing sensible things to stave the spread of the virus – including washing hands with soap and water, covering their mouth when they sneeze and binning used tissues.
“What we should be doing is taking sensible precautions we would normally take in the winter season,” he said.
On Wednesday, Professor Neil Ferguson, an infectious disease expert from Imperial College London, said he thought the world was in the “early phases of a global pandemic”.
He suggested up to 60 per cent of the UK population could become infected with a death rate of one per cent.
Asked about a potential death toll, Prof Whitty said it was a mistake to use numbers which were speculative.
“At the moment the numbers we are seeing out of China are so variable that it is really difficult to put a fixed figure,” he said.
On Wednesday evening, the UK’s ninth case of cornavirus was confirmed in London.
The unnamed woman, who is being treated at a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’, contracted the virus in China.
Reports suggest she flew into Heathrow Airport and self-isolated once she developed symptoms.
Several Chinese airlines are still flying to Heathrow, including Air China from Beijing, China Southern from Guangzhou, Shenzhen Airlines from Shenzhen, China Eastern from Shanghai, Beijing Capital Airlines from Qingdao and Tianjin Airlines from Xian.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths from coronavirus in China jumped to more than 1,350, with more than 60,000 recorded infections, as senior figures in Hubei province were dismissed amid criticism over the handling of the outbreak.
And 44 more people on quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess in Japan have tested positive for Covid-19 disease.
Two of those are Britons, taking the number of Britons on the ship diagnosed with coronavirus to three.
The British honeymooner diagnosed with coronavirus has said a language barrier meant he mistakenly believed he had tested negative for the disease.
Alan Steele said a second test has now come back negative and he will be released from quarantine if a third proves the same.
Posting on Facebook, he said: “Seems that my first test was positive and I misunderstood due to language barrier.
“Anyway the second test showed negative so a third test now has to be done. I need two negatives to be freed so all crossed on the third test.”
British couple David and Sally Abel, who remain on board the ship, said they have been given the option to leave and continue their quarantine ashore if they test negative for the virus.
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In a video posted on Facebook, Mrs Abel said: “We’re obviously going to be better off language-wise staying on board than we are if we go into some sort of facility run by Japanese.”
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned that the outbreak “could still go in any direction”.
On Wednesday, Steve Walsh, the businessman linked to 11 British cases of coronavirus, including five in France, was given the all-clear and discharged from hospital.