A third patient in the UK has tested positive for coronavirus, England’s chief medical officer has said.
The individual, who caught the infection abroad, is being taken to a specialist NHS treatment centre.
“We are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus,” Prof Chris Whitty said.
The virus has infected 28,256 worldwide and killed 565 people, mostly in China.
The NHS was “well prepared” to manage cases, Prof Whitty added, saying “we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had”.
Two other patients – both Chinese nationals – are still being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The patients – a university of York student and one of their relatives – tested positive for the virus after falling ill at a hotel in York.
It is not known where in the UK the new patient was when they were tested for the virus, or where they will be treated.
This is not a surprise, not a reason to panic and not a reason to press the alarm bell.
For as long as the epidemic rages in China, there is a risk of people travelling to other countries, including the UK, before they become sick.
But there are crucial differences between the UK and China.
First is the scale of the problem. The UK has three confirmed cases, China has 28,000.
This case in the UK is an event that was planned for – the patient is already in isolation and anybody who came into close contact is being traced.
It is also notable this patient caught the infection abroad, it is not due to the York patients spreading the virus.
China, however, is still playing catch-up and fighting to get on top of the outbreak.
The big question is not whether the UK can handle these three cases, it’s whether China can contain the outbreak.
Earlier the the Chinese ambassador to the UK warned against “panic” and “over-reaction” in response to the coronavirus and said the measures taken by China had been effective.
Meanwhile, China is introducing more restrictive measures to try to control the outbreak.
In some areas group dining is banned, there are limits on how often people can go outside, and lifts have been turned off in some buildings.
Nearly 100 Britons have been flown out of Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak, on flights arranged by the UK government.
All are now in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral for 14 days – the incubation period of the virus – to ensure they are not carrying the infection.
The UK government is chartering a final flight to bring British nationals back from Wuhan, which is due to leave on Sunday.
The Foreign Office has also advised Britons in other parts of China to leave the country if they can to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus, which has now spread to more than two dozen nations.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global health emergency over the outbreak but said it did not yet constitute a “pandemic”.
The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. Most people infected are likely to fully recover – just as they would from a flu.
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