Coronavirus fears in UK as health chief warns it’s ‘just a matter of time’ before it spreads rapidly – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS fears are rising in the UK after a health chief warned it's "just a matter of time" before the killer bug rapidly spreads.

As the number of confirmed cases jumped to 16 – with three people testing positive yesterday – schools could close and sporting events and gigs could be cancelled to stem the infection.

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Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: "One of the things that's really clear with this virus, much more so than flu, is that anything we do we're going to have to do for quite a long period of time, probably more than two months."

He warned there would be a huge social cost if the virus continues to intensify and spread further throughout the country.

The three to test positive for the deadly infection yesterday had returned from locked-down northern Italy and Tenerife, where 168 Brits are being quarantined in a hotel.

Italy has now become the worst affected country in Europe with at least 650 cases and 15 deaths. There is now more than 82,000 cases worldwide

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, said after the country's first case yesterday: "We have been planning for the first positive case in Northern Ireland and have made clear that it was a question of when not if."

It is not clear if the patient is being treated at the special unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, but the other two new positive patients are at the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Brits have been told they can protect themselves against the virus by simply regularly washing their hands.

But as the panic rises over the rapidly spreading bug, people are rushing to buy household items and set up "isolation" rooms, in case they need to stay at home.

Meanwhile, 168 Britons remain confined to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace in Tenerife after at least four guests were diagnosed with coronavirus.

Sources have said around 50 of the Britons will be allowed to leave if they wish.

But Airline Jet2 has said it will not fly back any people who have been staying at the hotel until they have tested negative for the illness.

The airline said on Thursday night: "We will not fly any customer who has stayed at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace during the quarantine, until this incubation period has passed or unless they have been explicitly tested for COVID-19 by a recognised authority and are confirmed as clear of the virus."

Two Britons were among eight people being monitored on board a cruise ship that was turned back by the Dominican Republic.

A joint statement by the Public Health Ministry and Port Authority on the island said the captain of the Braemar, which is carrying around 1,500 people, reported four Filipinos, two British citizens and two US citizens were under medical observation for symptoms such as fever, coughing, or breathing difficulty.

So far in the UK, 7,690 people have been tested for the virus and of the 16 to have tested positive, eight have so far been discharged from hospital.

In China, where the virus originated, 78,497 cases have been reported, including 2,744 deaths.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva on Thursday that coronavirus has the potential to become a global pandemic.

Public health advice remains to wash hands with soap, not rub the face and maintain a distance from people who are coughing and sneezing, he said.


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