Coronavirus: Whittington Health NHS Trust offers advice as first cases diagnosed in UK

The Whittington Hospital in North London. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Whittington Hospital in North London. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Whittington Health NHS Trust says the risk of catching coronavirus in the UK is low, despite the first positive cases in England being confirmed earlier today.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, today confirmed two patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus - they're being treated at a specialist centre in Newcastle. He's raised the risk level in the UK from low to moderate.

In China, where the virus was first identified, at least 213 people have died of the illness and there's been nearly 10,000 cases.

The World Heath Organisation declared a global emergency yesterday, and cases have been diagnosed in more than 20 countries.

Symptoms include fever and a cough that could progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

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These symptoms are generally more severe for older people and those with weakened immune systems, or long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

In a statement released earlier today, Mr Whitty said: "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.

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"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."

A Whittington Health NHS Trust spokesperson added: "If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days: stay indoors and avoid contact with other people call NHS 111 to tell them of your recent travel to the city

"Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus. If you are concerned that you may have the virus please call NHS 111, do not visit your GP or come to our emergency department. The risk of getting the illness in the UK is low.

The Royal Free Hospital referred readers to the government's guidance.

In the UK, 177 people have so far been tested for the virus.

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