Five of the eight confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK have been linked to Brighton. But while authorities have told people to carry on their daily routines, on the streets uncertainty is building.
Steve Walsh, a businessman from Hove who recently returned from Singapore, is thought to have infected 11 people – five of whom live in the city.
A Brighton GP and an A&E doctor at nearby Worthing, West Sussex, are among those already identified as carriers.
Brighton Council said residents shouldn’t panic, but Maddy Lewis, 19, a student at Brighton University, said she was “really worried” by the latest developments.
“I’ve been over-thinking it. I was planning on not coming out today,” she said, adding that she had ordered some masks which were “turning up tomorrow”.
She said she would be wearing them when she went home to Suffolk to see her family as she didn’t want to pass the virus on to them if she had it.
“It’s a two week incubation period. How do I know if I have got it or not?” she said.
Her friend Alex Fitzgerald-Starr, also 19, laughed at this suggestion. She said she was “pretty chilled” about it all but said she was worried it might have “got into to the university”.
The University of Sussex has confirmed a student that had recently returned from overseas had been admitted to hospital for tests. The results are not yet known.
Alex said that while the pair were at Brighton University, “we all socialise together”.
“We live in large halls of residence. Get on the same buses. Come into town. It would spread so easily,” she said.
Cassidy Seaborne, from Whitehawk, in Brighton, was out with her one-year-old daughter in a buggy.
“I want to put a mask on her,” she said.
Ms Seaborne said she was “scared” by reports the virus had a worse effect on “people with low immune systems or young children”, and she really just wanted to stay at home.
“If someone coughs, it makes me nervous,” she said, adding that she had seen “about five people in masks on one bus” in one day.
In contrast, Frank Hayden, 45, from Eastbourne, who works at Timpson’s in Brighton, shrugged off such concerns.
“I’m not bothered. I come into contact with the general public on a daily basis. It’s just like the flu, isn’t it? I’m not one for scare-mongering,” he said.
However, he said he didn’t “watch the news or read much”.
“If I catch it, I’d just do what I’m told to do, self-isolate,” he said.
Meanwhile, parents of pupils at Cottesmore St Mary’s Catholic School in Brighton were told two people from the school have been advised by Public Health England to self-isolate for 14 days after coming into contact with a coronavirus case.
Parents were told: “If you wish to keep your child off of school at this time, then we will authorise this absence.”
Journalist Sarah Lewis has a daughter at Cottesmore. She said she “initially had a moment” when she got the message, but was “trying not to panic”.
She said: “Judging by my Whatsapp groups, a lot of people are choosing to keep their children at home.”
But she would be sending her daughter to school on Wednesday and was reassured that the school was being informative and taking action.
“They have done a lot of work with the children on prevention, even before today, with hand-washing and so on,” she said.
“The head teacher is lovely – a mum herself, and very careful.”