/Coronavirus in London: tower block cleaned by men in hazmat suits amid warning Tube is hotbed for infection

Coronavirus in London: tower block cleaned by men in hazmat suits amid warning Tube is hotbed for infection

A woman who flew into London from China a few days ago is being treated for coronavirus, bringing the total number of UK cases to nine.

Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, said the woman was transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in central London. Prof Whitty said the patient had contracted the virus in China.

The news came as doctors warned the London Underground could be a hotbed for the spread of the strain of coronavirus known as Covid-19.

Sources say the woman developed symptoms after landing at Heathrow, called NHS 111 and then tested positive.

According to The Guardian the woman turned up unannounced at a hospital in an Uber taxi after falling ill

Two staff from Lewisham hospital in south London are now in isolation at home after coming into contact with the woman, a Chinese national who had recently arrived in the capital from China.

Lewisham hospital on Thursday confirmed the unnamed patient had not followed public health officials’ advice and had simply “self-presented” at its A&E unit last Sunday afternoon.

She did not arrive by ambulance or her own private vehicle and went straight to the A&E reception desk to report her symptoms – both clear breaches of guidance aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

It comes as personel in hazmat protection suits moved into a London tower block.

Workers wearing full body protection suits began cleaning areas of the 37-storey residential development One The Elephant on Thursday morning after a resident was taken from the building by ambulance the previous evening.

Speaking about the London patient who turned up at A&E and was later diagnosed with coronavirus, Ben Travi, chief executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said: “There has been a confirmed case of coronavirus from a patient who self-presented at the A&E department of University Hospital Lewisham on Sunday February 9.

“The test result was confirmed as positive on Wednesday February 12 and we have been in touch with all staff who came into contact with the patient. The patient went to St Thomas’ yesterday evening.

“Our colleagues in our emergency departments are following the latest advice and protocols from Public Health England. In this case, the patient self-presented at our A&E.

“As soon as the patient did this, the patient was given a mask and then escorted to be tested in the dedicated area we have assigned for coronavirus testing outside the A&E building – while awaiting the installation of a purpose-built ‘pod’.

“As further assessment was required, the patient was then taken to a dedicated isolation room in the emergency department.

“In line with our protocols, throughout their care, the patient was escorted and did not come into contact with other patients. The patient was later discharged and taken home by London Ambulance Service.

“All staff who had direct contact with the patient have been contacted, including two members of staff who are undergoing active surveillance at home for a 14-day period as a precautionary measure – following the advice of Public Health England.”

Prof Whitty told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that what happens next with coronavirus depends on what happens in China. He said: “This depends on what happens in China, broadly this goes one of two ways.

“One is that China gets on top of the epidemic and there are spillover cases around the world but those are contained, and we will have more cases in the UK – that’s highly likely – we may even get a little bit of onward transmission in the UK, and we’ll be able to pick up with those, and then the epidemic goes away. That is possible.”

He said this scenario could be aided by a change in the seasons, which could help dampen the spread of the virus.

He continued: “The alternative is that it’s not possible to contain in China and this then starts (to spread) – probably initially quite slowly – around the world and then unless the seasons come to our rescue, then it is going to come to a situation where we have it in Europe and the UK in due course.”

The latest case comes as dozens of Britons who were rescued from the Chinese city of Wuhan are to be freed after two weeks in quarantine.

Eighty-three people will leave Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside on Thursday, 14 days after they arrived on an evacuation flight.

All of the group – who had signed a contract agreeing to the quarantine period – have tested negative for the virus.

Kharn Lambert, one of the quarantined patients in Merseyside, said ahead of the release: “I’m ecstatic and I’m so happy that everyone has come back with negative test results.”

During their time in quarantine one of the group had threatened to abscond from the isolation unit, prompting the Government to announce new legal powers allowing people with the illness to be forcibly quarantined, and forcibly sent into isolation if deemed to pose a threat.

While researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have estimated the number of new coronavirus cases in Wuhan could peak by the end of the month, the WHO said it is too early to make such a prediction.

Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, told the briefing: “I think it’s way too early to try and predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic.”

Elsewhere a major technology show has been cancelled after a number of firms pulled out over coronavirus fears.

Organisers of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which had been due to take place in Barcelona at the end of the month, said it had become “impossible” to hold it this year due to “global concern” around the outbreak.

Of the nine people so far diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, two are GPs.

Officials know that the pair worked at a nursing home, Worthing Hospital A&E and two GP practices between them.

Public Health England (PHE) confirmed on Wednesday it has traced and advised all close contacts of the two GPs, including about 12 patients.

Meanwhile, in Brighton, pupils at several schools have been told they could stay at home after reports that some teachers and families feared they had come into contact with the virus.

The Department for Education has issued advice to schools to follow instructions given by Public Health England regarding self-isolation for people who have recently travelled from Wuhan or specified countries.

There have been more than 44,700 cases of the virus in China, with more than 1,100 deaths.

In the rest of the world more than 400 cases have been confirmed across 24 countries. One death has occurred outside China.

London tower block cleaned by staff in hazmat suits

Latest from our reporters Patrick Sawer and Yohannes Lowe: 

Personel in hazmat protection suits moved into a London tower block as health officials began the task of tracing who the first Coronavirus sufferer in the capital had come into contact with.

Workers wearing full body protection suits began cleaning areas of the 37-storey residential development One The Elephant on Thursday morning after a resident was taken from the building by ambulance the previous evening.

The development came as a Chinese woman was confirmed as London’s first Coronavirus patient after returning from China a few days ago. It is not known if the two incidents are linked.

The Chief Medical Officer confirmed on Wednesday evening that the Chinese woman, who lives in the capital, had become the ninth person in the UK to test positive for the disease.

Sources said she had flown in to Heathrow from China and called NHS 111 when she began to develop symptoms after landing.

Hazmat suit workers 

Hazmat suit workers 

The woman was then transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

At One The Elephant, which is home to several Chinese students, two men wearing white hazmat suits and blue face masks could be seen cleaning the floor of the lobby before spraying and wiping windows.

It is understood that after feeling unwell the resident was ‘quarantined’ in a communal area of the building while an ambulance was called.

One Chinese student who lives in the tower, said:” The front desk said that someone had a fever and an ambulance was called to see if they are alright. I’m not sure of who they were”

Yen Chen, 21, a student at the nearby London College of Communication who lives in the apartment block, said: “I have seen two people with masks on wearing isolation suits cleaning the lobby floor ‘for the moment’ since this morning. They have been using anti bacterial spray I think. I haven’t got any emails from the front desk about it.

“My roommate stays in his room a lot because he’s worried about the virus.”

Doctors warn Tube is a hotbed for spread of virus 

Doctors have warned the London Underground could be a hotbed for the spread of the strain of coronavirus known as Covid-19.

There are concerns the city’s status as a transport hub could exacerbate the spread of the virus, however doctors have said the risk of infection for residents in the capital remains low.

“In general, if an initial case is in a densely populated area, then the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission following is higher,” Dr Robin Thompson of Oxford University said.

“This is exacerbated by the fact that London is a transport hub, and the underground could provide a network to spread the virus quickly.

“As a result, given this case was in London, it might be expected that there is an increased risk posed by this case compared to the others we have seen.”

London Underground

London Underground 

Credit: Hyde News & Pictures Ltd

Dr Michael Head from the University of Southampton added: “It should also be noted that of the 1,750 tests carried out so far in the UK, over 99% of those tested have been negative for the coronavirus.

“Thus, risks to Londoners and UK residents remain low, though people should continue to keep an eye on guidance for the general public.”

While the patient has now been quarantined, Dr Thompson says the risk of the virus spreading depends on the woman’s interactions prior to being placed in isolation.

“The key factor here is the number of contacts that this infected individual has had prior to being isolated,” he said.

“If this is low, then the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is also low.”

As Public Health England investigates the patient’s movements, Dr Nathalie MacDermott from the National Institute for Health Research said London commuters should continue to go about their business as usual.

“Provided the individual followed the government’s advice (to self-isolate) there should be little concern of transmission to the general public in London,” she said.

Britons quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital two weeks ago let out 

People have begun leaving Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside on Thursday, 14 days after they arrived on an evacuation flight.

All of the group – who had signed a contract agreeing to the quarantine period – have tested negative for the virus.

Matt Raw, 38, from Knutsford, Cheshire, shouted “We’re free… and the sun’s shining” as he left isolation at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral. He said: “Some good fresh air and very, very, very happy that all 83 of us have tested negative for the virus and I guess now back to business as usual.

“It is absolutely lovely to be out and I’ll no doubt be going out for a pint a little bit later.”

He added: “It has not been that bad because they have looked after us so excellently.

“The wonderful, wonderful staff of the NHS, they have really done their very best to make us as comfortable as possible.

“We’re not prisoners. They’re trying to make us feel like, if anything, we’re just on holiday for a couple of weeks, maybe without the swimming pool.”

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “As our first group of guests leaves Arrowe Park Hospital, we want to thank them for the highly responsible, pragmatic and stoical way they have played their part in keeping both themselves and others safe.

“They have set an important example, recognising that over the coming weeks many more of us may need to self-isolate at home for a period to reduce this virus’s spread.

“I particularly also want to thank all the NHS staff who have worked so hard to make their stay as safe and comfortable as possible.

“With about 72 hours’ notice they and subsequently their colleagues in Milton Keynes have mobilised clinical teams, personal support and pastoral care to look after over 200 people returning to this country under extremely trying circumstances.

“They have been hugely helped by the volunteers, residents, schools and those from local councils.

“While the NHS steps up, everyone can continue to play their part by taking simple steps such as washing hands to prevent the spread of infection and calling NHS 111 first before going to the doctors or A&E if they have any concerns about or show symptoms of the virus.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Today marks the end of 14 days of supported isolation for over 80 people in the Wirral.

“This will not have been an easy time for them and I would like to express my gratitude for their bravery and patience.

“Each individual has been given a clean bill of health, and the nation can be reassured that their departure presents no risk to the public.

“I am incredibly proud of every dedicated healthcare professional who has looked after these individuals over the last 14 days – their tireless work in exceptional circumstances is a testament to our steadfast NHS.”

Businessman at centre of UK outbreak given the all-clear

Steve Walsh, the businessman at the centre of the UK outbreak of coronavirus, has been given the all-clear and discharged from hospital.

Mr Walsh, a 53-year-old scout leader from Hove in East Sussex, contracted coronavirus on a business trip to Singapore – and is linked to five other people diagnosed with it in the UK.

On his way back to the UK from Singapore, he stopped off at a ski region in France, where five other Britons were subsequently infected with coronavirus, now also known as Covid-19.

Steve Walsh 

Steve Walsh 

Mr Walsh is also linked to a Briton taken ill in Majorca, taking the number of confirmed cases linked to him to 11.

NHS England have confirmed he poses “no risk the the public. 

Mr Walsh, 53, from Hove, who had only mild symptoms, said he was now happy to be home and feeling well.

“I want to give a big thank you to the NHS who have been great throughout, and my thoughts are with everyone around the world who continues to be affected by the virus,” Mr Walsh said.

“It’s good to be back with my family and I would ask you please to respect our privacy from this point on.”

Quarantined travellers in Milton Keynes test negative for coronavirus

All swab tests on travellers being quarantined in Milton Keynes have come back negative – meaning it is unlikely any have coronavirus.

Milton Keynes Hospitals said all of those staying at Kents Hill Park Hotel will have to undergo further tests – after six and 12 days – and will remain in quarantine.

The results mean they will now be slightly less restricted in the way they move around the hotel.

But the hospital stressed all infection-prevention measures currently in place would continue.

The travellers arrived on a flight from Wuhan – the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak – on Sunday.

They flew in to RAF Brize Norton and were driven to Milton Keynes where they will have to stay for a total of 14 days while they are closely monitored for symptoms.

Public Health England said there were 105 British nationals and 95 Europeans on the flight.

Dentists warn of shortage of face masks in wake of virus outbreak 

The British Dental Association (BDA) said some larger clinics in the UK will run out of masks by the middle of next week and will not be able to treat patients safely under current rules.

A spokesman said more than 50 per cent of face masks used by dentists and other health professionals in the UK are made in China but export of masks from Chinese manufacturers have “essentially ceased”.

UK suppliers are therefore restricting the amount that can be ordered, with some suppliers out of stock and others tripling their prices, the spokesman said.

Some dentists and health professionals have also been panic-buying as they anticipate a shortage, while the BDA said it had been “bombarded” with calls.

The BDA warned that UK suppliers have issued blanket restrictions, which say dental practices can order no more than two boxes of masks per day – 100 masks in total.

The masks are used by dentists and dental nurses, and are also used when sterilising equipment.

The BDA estimates that a single surgery in a typical NHS practice, seeing around 28 patients per day, will be getting through five boxes of masks a week. They account for about a fifth of all practices in the UK.

But “two-chair” NHS practices are likely to use up their allocation completely, and larger practices will not have enough to continue opening.

Under current guidance, all dental professionals operating in England are told to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including disposable face masks, clinical gloves, disposable aprons and eye protection.

BDA chairman Mick Armstrong said: “In recent weeks dentists have been hit by panic-buying, clumsy rationing and naked profiteering.

“Sadly a ‘one size fits all’ approach from suppliers is leaving many larger practices with few options.

“Our abiding interest is the safety of our patients, who face imminent disruption to their care.

“Unless we see a rapid increase in supply, dentists without face masks will have little choice but to down drills.”

The BDA said similar issues are being seen in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Original Source