Wales confirms two more cases of the killer coronavirus as UK’s infection toll reaches 280
- Two new cases are not linked to one another and both travelled back from Italy
- It takes Wales’ total number of cases to six, and official UK toll now sits at 280
- Comes after the deadly disease claimed its third life on Sunday, a man in his 60s
- Do you have a coronavirus story? Email email@example.com or call 0203 615 0203
Two more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, taking the country’s total to six.
The new cases are not linked to one another and they both travelled back to Wales from different parts of Italy, Public Health Wales revealed. No other details were given.
Health officials are now hunting down their family members and close contacts to test them for the virus.
Britain’s total number of cases now sits at 280, a surge of 74 since Saturday amid fears the crisis is rapidly approaching its peak.
It comes after the killer virus claimed its third life in Britain on Sunday, a man in his 60s from Manchester.
With case numbers continuing to swell, Boris Johnson has called an emergency COBRA meeting this morning.
Government ministers will decide whether to move into the delay phase of the Prime Minister’s coronavirus ‘battle plan’.
It could see drastic public health measures including shutting schools, banning large public events and encouraging people to work from home.
A man and two women wearing surgical face masks as they walk in Cardiff city centre on March 8
Health Secretary Matt Hancock (front) and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (back) outside No10 this morning ahead of an emergency Cobra meeting about the coronavirus crisis
The male patient had ‘significant underlying health conditions’ and had recently returned from trip to Italy.
He was being treated at North Manchester General Hospital’s specialist regional unit for infectious diseases.
The British Foreign Office has advised against ‘all but essential travel’ to a number of areas in northern Italy as total cases reach more than 7,000.
It warned citizens to avoid traditional tourist hotspots such as Venice and Milan due to control and isolation measures imposed by Italian authorities and cases of coronavirus reported.
Rome has already placed the Lombardy region, with a population of 16million, on lock-down.
It comes as UK employers are also reported to be sending employees that have recently travelled to Italy home for a two-week isolation period.
The Foreign Office warned against all travel to the Lombardy region alongside the provinces of Emilia Romagna and Piemonte.
It also warned against visiting Pesaro e Urbino in Marche and Treviso and Venice in the Veneto region.
It first warned against travel to eleven towns in northern Italy on February 25 after 322 coronavirus cases were reported.
It came as Northern Ireland reported five new cases of coronavirus last night, adding to the biggest daily rise in the number of cases reported in the UK.
The Department of Health said on Sunday afternoon that as of 9am on Sunday there were 273 coronavirus cases and 64 new patients.
Health chiefs faced serious questions last night as it emerged travellers from Italy, at the centre of Europe’s outbreak with more than 7,000 cases, said they had been able to get off flights to the UK without seeing any officials.
Flights from countries including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are subject to so-called enhanced monitoring measures.
This means that when a passenger feels unwell they should alert the air crew. The pilot will then have to ask the destination airport for permission before anyone can disembark.
Leaflets are then handed out to all passengers about calling NHS 111 and self-isolating if they experience a cough, sore throat or temperature.
Public Health England claimed it had been carrying out ‘enhanced monitoring’ of all flights from northern Italy since last Wednesday but had not extended the measure to flights from southern Italy – meaning travellers may be coming into the UK with the virus without being detected.
Several travellers from Italy – including Milan – said they had passed through UK airports without seeing any officials.
As the UK’s coronavirus cases tally continues to rise, Boris Johnson is to hold an emergency meeting of the government’s Cobra committee to discuss whether the country should shift from a ‘contain’ to a ‘delay’ phase as health officials grapple to control the virus.
Easyjet has grounded all its flights to northern Italy on Monday and said it will review those scheduled until April 3. Ryanair and British Airways said that they do not have any plans to review flights.
The UK is reportedly preparing for as many as 100,000 deaths due to the virus. This figure was accepted by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who stressed the government is looking at the ‘scientific worst case scenario’.
The British Foreign Office has warned against ‘all but essential travel’ to regions in northern Italy after the country placed the region of Lombardy, home to some 16million people, on lock down in an attempt to stop the virus spreading. It has reported the highest number of cases outside China.
Chief Executive Officer of the of the NHS Simon Stevens (centre) arrives at the Cobra meeting today
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks out of Bank Station in London’s financial district
Two more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, taking the country’s total to six. Pictured above is a woman wearing a face mask walking past an empty aisle in a London Asda store
A fan in a mask during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester this afternoon
Announcing the death of a third person in the UK due to coronavirus, the UK’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, wrote: ‘I am very sorry to report that a third patient in England who tested positive for COVID-19 has sadly died. I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected.
‘The patient, who was being treated at the North Manchester General Hospital, was over 60 years old and had significant underlying health conditions. They had recently travelled from an affected area. Contact tracing is already underway.’
Health chiefs faced criticism last night as it emerged that people who had flown into the UK from Italy had not been subject to stringent checks. Public Health England said it would be extending the checks to all flights from Italy this Wednesday, although that is more than two and a half weeks since cases out there first began to escalate.
Federico Gatti, of the UK bureau of Italian broadcaster Mediaset, tweeted yesterday: ‘Just landed in London from Milan. Zero checks. No info. How can it be possible?’
A spokesman from PHE said they ‘welcomed feedback’, adding that enhanced monitoring should be in place for all flights from northern Italy.
Professor Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist based at the University of Aberdeen, said he was ‘surprised’ the checks weren’t been done.
Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, said it ‘absolutely makes sense for these measures to be implemented’.
Empty shelves pictured at a Tesco’s in Cambridge on Sunday morning. The sign tells customers that hand gels have been rationed to six per customer
Supermarket shelves have been cleared at this Waitrose in Sheffield as Brits fear a Wuhan-style lock down due to coronavirus
The store was quickly running out of long life food products such as pasta and sauces to go with it
Today a Tesco store in London was forced to limit its toilet rolls purchases to five per customer
University Hospital Southampton said last night that the ‘small number’ of patients and staff which came into contact with the coronavirus sufferer that worked at the hospital have been informed and ‘will be appropriately isolated’.
‘Any patient affected by the temporary closure will be contacted directly,’ they said in a statement. ‘The Trust is following Public Health England and NHS guidance in respect of the virus and all other services are operating normally.’
They said patients and staff should continue to attend appointments normally and come into work unless they have been advised not to do so.
Announcing the cancellation of all flights to northern Italy on Monday and a review of its schedule until April, easyJet said: ‘We expect to continue to reduce the number of flights in and out of Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona airports in the period up to April 3 and will provide a further update on our schedule in due course.’
Passengers affected by the change will receive an email or text message and will be offered either a full refund or the option of changing their flights.
British Airways and Ryanair have both confirmed that they have no plans to ground flights.
Oxford University also revealed that a student had been diagnosed on its website, but stated that the risk is ‘very low and that university and college activities can continue as normal’.
The university did not reveal what country the student had travelled from but said its immediate concerns were for the affected student and their family, along with the health and well-being of university staff, students and visitors.
‘It has been established that the affected student did not attend any university or college events after they felt ill, when they subsequently self-isolated,’ they said.
‘As a result, PHE has advised that the risk to other students and staff is very low and that university and college activities can continue as normal. They have also advised that the university and colleges do not need to take any additional public health actions in the light of this specific case.
‘We have worked with PHE to make sure that anyone who was in contact with the student after they fell ill have been notified and that they are able to access support and information as needed. PHE do not consider individuals infectious until they develop symptoms.’
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?
Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
Nearly 4,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 110,000 have been infected. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.
By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.
By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.
A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.
By February 25, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,700 had died. February 25 was the first day in the outbreak when fewer cases were diagnosed within China than in the rest of the world.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.
However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.
Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region.
Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.
She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.
Source: Read Full Article