Chinese students who travelled from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak went clubbing in Cambridge this week, it emerged today.
Fifteen undergraduates from Wuhan College attended lectures and talks at the University of Cambridge this week as part of a nine-day education programme.
They are said to have mingled in student bars and clubs in Cambridge city centre at night – stoking fears the highly contagious illness may have already spread in the UK.
The students were able to fly from Wuhan before the city was placed on lockdown in a desperate bid to contain the lethal virus which has killed 26 people so far.
Fifteen students from Wuhan (pictured) attended the University of Cambridge this week
They were able to fly over before the Chinese city was placed on lockdown in a desperate bid to contain the killer virus which has killed 26 people so far
The student newspaper The Tab reported today that Cambridge Colleges have emailed students a document with advice regarding the coronavirus.
MailOnline has seen an email sent to students at Cambridge’s Jesus College, where the Wuhan travellers went to, which says none of the visitors have shown any signs of infection as of yet.
On its website, Jesus College said: ‘From 13-22 January 2020, Jesus College welcomed 15 visitors from Wuhan College, China, for an educational enrichment programme.
‘The students experienced a range of lectures, talks and visits around the University of Cambridge, gaining insight into student life and British higher education.’
British officials yesterday warned thousands of foreign students who have gone back to China to celebrate their New Year this weekend could return to the UK unaware they have the virus.
Cambridge University’s Jesus College posted on Instagram this week, writing: ‘It’s been great having the Wuhan University students around the College to learn from a range of lecturers’
MailOnline has seen an email sent to students at Cambridge’s Jesus College, where the Wuhan travellers went to, which says none of the visitors have shown any signs of infection as of yet
Universities are already identifying staff and students who have recently visited the worst-hit areas, with some told that they will not be allowed back on campus unless they agree to a ‘suitable quarantine period’.
Private schools, many of which also have large contingents of Chinese students, also issued guidance. China sends more pupils to UK fee-paying schools than any other country.
The Boarding Schools Association (BSA) said ‘schools might wish to consider planning for the eventuality that some boarders either cannot or choose not to travel home at half-term or, more likely, Easter’.
So far more than 900 people have been infected worldwide in 10 different countries. But experts say the true number is probably closer to 10,000
While there is ‘no immediate cause for concern’ the situation needs to be closely monitored, independent school groups have said.
The coronavirus has so far claimed the lives of 26 people – all in China – and infected more than 900 in 10 different countries.
The World Health Organisation last night stopped short of declaring it a ‘global health emergency’, but said there was no doubt it ‘may yet become one’.
The virus – previously unknown to science – first appeared in Wuhan last month. It originated in a meat market and scientists believe it ‘jumped the species barrier’ from snakes, which may have been on sale illegally, to humans.
Symptoms begin with a fever, a dry cough and sneezing. This is followed by shortness of breath about a week later, which can develop into pneumonia.
Medical staff work in the ICU (intensive care unit) of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan
Medical workers transfer a patient who is on the mend out of the ICU (intensive care unit) of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan
All 26 deaths known about so far have occurred in China and most patients were elderly. The virus has now spread to nine countries including the US, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.
Japan has recorded two cases, one of which exposes how infected travellers leaving China could be missed by health checks.
The Wuhan resident, in his 40s, developed a fever several days before his journey to Japan. But his condition then stabilised.
He reported a fever again three days after he arrived and is now in a Tokyo hospital, Japan’s health ministry said.
On Wednesday night, China suspended all flights out of Wuhan. Direct flights from the city to Heathrow were halted as a result, although there are still many flights into the UK from other Chinese cities. Currently, there are no screening measures on these flights on arrival.
Yesterday the NHS’s Chief Medical Officer wrote to hundreds of thousands of doctors and nurses advising them to establish whether patients had recently visited Wuhan. The letter said Chinese New Year celebrations could ‘amplify transition’, including within the UK, due to the ‘mass movement’ of people around the world.
University staff are worried that some of the Chinese students who will travel home this Saturday will bring the infection back.
As coronavirus has an incubation period of up to two weeks – the time between infection and symptoms beginning – they may pass it on before they even feel ill.
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. Twenty-six people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere