DEADLY coronavirus has hit Britain today with TWO patients quarantined after testing positive for the killer bug.
Two members of the same family have been struck down with the virus and are being treated in Newcastle, as the deadly epidemic hits the UK.
Soldiers and medics on hand at Brize Norton today as the rescue flight from Wuhan lands todayCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
Medics with hazmat suits on were seen leading a patient to an ambulance in university halls in London last night
The two confirmed cases are thought to be at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in NewcastleCredit: Alamy
It now raises stark fears of more victims across the UK, with a desperate hunt to trace anyone who has been in contact with the pair.
Authorities are also still scrambling to find almost 2,000 more people who have landed from the “ground zero” epicentre of Wuhan.
Health officials say they “are working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread” – amid frantic efforts to stop it spiralling out of control.
Director for national infection service at Public Health England Professor Sharon Peacock said: “We were able to stand up an outbreak investigation team immediately and that team is working now, and what they’ll be doing is aiming to contact everybody who has been in contact with these two cases and prevent onward transmission.”
It comes after hazmat paramedics swooped on a hotel in York on Wednesday, after a guest travelling with two others reported feeling unwell.
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And two students from Bristol and London were bundled out of accommodation with suited-up paramedics yesterday with suspected symptoms.
It confirms fears the government acted too late to prevent the crisis hitting Britain, only putting in travel restrictions several days after the outbreak worsened in China.
Experts today said the news had come as no surprise and “is what we have been expecting for the last week” – despite repeated claims by ministers the crisis was “under control”.
It means England is the 23rd country or territory outside of China to have confirmed coronavirus cases.
It comes as…
Dr Michael Head, from the University of Southampton, warned how contagious and easily spread the deadly disease is.
He said: “Hopefully, as seen elsewhere, the case numbers will be very limited.
“But the key concern will be if there is significant human to human transmission.”
Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia said the NHS is well prepared to deal with the lethal coronavirus, having “successfully and safely” managed a number of cases of SARS and MERS.
“With the information available it is not possible to judge what risk, if any, there may be of spread within the community.”
Today’s grave news comes after dramatic footage showed hospital waiting rooms and student accommodations being dramatically evacuated by medics in hazmat suits this week as hundreds were tested for the killer bug.
Until today 161 people in Britain had tested negative.
Coaches enter RAF Brize Norton before the plane carrying Brits from coronavirus-hit Wuhan lands
Two medics were seen in Bristol after reports a student was suffering from flu-like symptoms
It comes as China has its deadliest day yet with the death toll reaching 213 and cases surging towards 10,000.
More than 80 Brits are due to land in the UK later today after a rescue flight left from Wuhan – the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.
After several delays, the flight – chartered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) – left at 9.45am local time on Friday, carrying 83 Britons and 27 non-UK nationals, mostly from EU countries.
The flight is expected to arrive at the Brize Norton RAF base in Oxfordshire around 1pm, the FCO said in a statement.
The evacuation came after the UK’s four chief medical officers raised the risk level of the illness from low to moderate and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an international public health emergency.
Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have suspended flights from virus-hit China to the UK.
HIGH ALERT: Chief Medical Officer confirms two cases of coronavirus in the UK
Announcing the two cases in the UK, Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said: “We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus.
“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.
“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.
“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.”
Patrick Graham shared a selfie saying he had been awake for 24 hours and was now off to a 14-day quarantineCredit: Instagram
Medics in Hazmat suits at Wuhan airport on ThursdayCredit: Instagram
The flight is due to land this morning after evacuating Brits from WuhanCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
The British passengers on the evacuation flight – who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province – had to sign a contract agreeing to isolation before they could board the flight, and underwent temperature checks.
On arrival, they will be taken by bus to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral for a quarantine period of 14 days, where they will be housed in an NHS staff accommodation block with access to the internet.
Anyone with suspicious symptoms will be taken to the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital, which has a high-level infectious diseases unit.
French citizens arrive and settle aboard an evacuation plane heading to southeastern FranceCredit: AFP or licensors
Pictures posted on social media by Emily Xiao seem to show buses getting ready to take Brits to Wuhan Tianhe AirportCredit: Instagram
RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this morning as it prepares for a return flight from WuhanCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
What is coronavirus and how to spot the symptoms?
Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.
The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.
Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.
It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.
The symptoms include:
- A runny nose
- Cough and fever
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.
There is no vaccine for coronavirus.
In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.
More people are becoming infected with the new bugCredit: EPA
Experts in China carry out work on a new coronavirus nucleic acid detection kitCredit: EPA
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British citizen Chris Hill, who lives in Wuhan with his wife and four-year-old daughter, told PA he refused to take the offered flight as the FCO could not confirm he would be able to bring his daughter Renee with him as she is a Chinese citizen.
“With the current situation and the way the FCO is handling the diplomatic side of things, I’m just losing faith,” Mr Hill said.
The Chinese government does not recognise dual nationality, and it is believed people with Chinese citizenship were unable to leave the affected area.
Killer coronavirus hits UK Q&A
Killer coronavirus has reached the UK, with two Brits struck down with the infection.
Here’s what you need to know…
Where are the infected people in the UK?
It’s unclear where the coronavirus victims are at the moment.
But it’s understood they will have been taken to one of the UK’s four high level isolation units.
These include the Royal Free in London, Royal Liverpool Hospital, Newcastle Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
What precautions can I take again coronavirus?
The virus is transmitted between people in droplets from coughing and sneezing and touching or shaking hands.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from catching 2019-nCoV is to be aware of the symptoms, which include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- High temperature
Most victims of the virus die from complications including pneumonia and swelling in the lungs.
It also causes swelling in the respiratory system, which can make it hard for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream – leading to organ failure and death.
Severe pneumonia can kill people by causing them to “drown” in the fluid flooding their lungs.
So far those who have died in China have been older or have a weakened immune system.
The best way to prevent catching any form of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It says that in order to reduce your risk of infection, you should:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
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
If you are in Northern Ireland, call your GP.
Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.
Should I wear a mask?
Chinese authorities have encouraged people to wear surgical masks to help stop the spread of the new virus.
But some infectious disease experts say that there’s little high-quality scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of them outside of a clinical setting.
Instead they say that washing your hands and avoiding people who are ill is way more important than wearing a mask.
Will it spread?
Coronavirus is spread through coughing, sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces.
Since the new infection emerged a month ago, cases have rapidly soared and spread borders.
In recent weeks, the first human-to-human transmission in people who have never been to China have been confirmed.
The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Experts say that it was “only a matter of time” before the deadly bug hit the UK and warn it could spread – but it’s hoped cases will be “very limited”.
Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said: “The UK cases are unsurprising to see.
“Given the spread to other European and North American countries, it was really only a matter of time until the UK ended up with confirmed cases.
“Hopefully, as seen elsewhere, the case numbers will be very limited.
“The key concern will be if there is significant human to human transmission.”
What are the government doing?
Advanced monitoring at airports is being carried out on direct flights from China.
A team of public health experts have been established at Heathrow to support anyone who feels unwell.
This is in addition to medical staff who are already permanently based at all UK airports.
The government has issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis and infection prevention and control.
The UK is now one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease.
Healthcare professionals who are contacted by a patient with symptoms following travel to Wuhan have been advised to submit samples to PHE for testing.
Individuals will be treated in isolation.