Three people are being tested for a coronavirus in Edinburgh, and a fourth possible case is thought to be in Glasgow. If these are confirmed, they may become the first known UK cases of the novel coronavirus that has recently emerged in Wuhan, China.
The virus can cause fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia. So far, there have been nearly 600 reported cases of infection and 17 deaths. Most cases have occurred in China, but cases have also been reported in other countries, including Japan and the US.
The four people in the UK with suspected infections are thought to all be Chinese nationals. One is a student at the University of Edinburgh.
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“The situation will be pretty similar in pretty much all UK cities with a large number of Chinese students,” says Jürgen Haas, head of infection medicine at the University of Edinburgh. “It’s not too surprising. My suspicion is that there will probably be many more cases in many other cities in the UK.”
In a statement to the UK Parliament today, health minister Matt Hancock said there is an “increased likelihood” of UK cases of the new virus, but that the risk to the public is low.
He said the UK’s chief medical adviser has concluded that the country is prepared and well-equipped to deal with any cases that may arise.
Hancock added that only essential travel to Wuhan is advised. “Since yesterday, Public Health England officials have been carrying out monitoring of direct flights from Wuhan city and all passengers on direct flights from China will receive information on what to do if they fall ill,” he said.
Article amended on
24 January 2020
We corrected the job title of the government adviser
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