A GP surgery has gone into lock-down over a suspected coronavirus case as two MPs place themselves in ‘self-isolation’ and a Channel 4 employee is escorted out of the broadcaster’s London office by people in hazmat suits over fears the virus could spread in the UK.
Kingston Crescent Surgery in Portsmouth, Hampshire, bolted its doors at 4.30pm today after a woman who had recently flown into Gatwick caused an alert at the centre.
Labour MPs Lilian Greenwood and Alex Sobel, who both went to a Westminster bus conference attended by a coronavirus sufferer, also revealed today that they had cancelled upcoming engagements as public health England advised them to stay at home for 14-days, the virus’s incubation period.
A Channel 4 employee was also taken out of the broadcaster’s London headquarters and whisked away for coronavirus tests today. The staff member had felt unwell after returning from a holiday in China.
It comes as cases of the virus – named COVID-19 – in the UK remain at nine after a woman was taken to hospital in London and tested positive for the virus.
Kingston Crescent Surgery in Portsmouth, Hampshire, bolted its doors at 4.30pm following a suspected coronavirus case
Labour MP Alex Sobel announced his decisions on Twitter, revealing he has cancelled upcoming engagements as a precaution after going to the QEII Centre on February 6
Labour MP for Nottingham South, Lilian Greenwood, also announced on Twitter that she had cancelled upcoming engagements in order to self-isolate at home
The staff member, who hasn’t been named but is known not to be a journalist, was escorted from the offices in Victoria by NHS staff wearing hazmat suits. He is now in self-isolation at home
There are still nine reported cases in the UK despite repeated scares. The number of cases in China has jumped this week to 64,465
A doctor from the GP practice said they were closing following advice from Public Health England and had transferred the patient elsewhere as the surgery underwent a deep clean.
‘We have closed with a suspected case of coronavirus,’ he said. ‘We’re following Public Health England guidance and are in contact with them and NHS England’.
‘This is evolving minute by minute for us but at the moment it’s just a suspected case. We have transferred care elsewhere so patients will be taken care of.’
A note posted on the group’s website read: ‘Due to coronavirus our Kingston Crescent Surgery is closed for deep cleaning until further notice.
‘All travellers who develop relevant symptoms (for example respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath, cough, fever) however mild, within 14 days of returning or transitioning from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau should not attend the practice, but should remain at home and immediately call NHS 111 for advice.’
A patient waiting for an appointment this afternoon said all patients were ordered out of the surgery due to an ’emergency’. Patient care will now be carried out at Cosham Park House until the surgery is deemed suitable for reopening.
The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6 (Boris Johnson ‘s Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton speaks at the summit)
A message posted on the group’s website said that the surgery had been closed ‘until further notice’ following a suspected case of coronavirus
Both MPs affected confirmed they did not have any symptoms today, which can include coughs and fevers, and hadn’t been told to self-isolate but chose to do so anyway as a precaution.
It comes after it was revealed today that one of Britain’s nine confirmed coronavirus cases attended the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6, just a stone’s throw from Parliament.
The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 people at the conference, where the star speaker was Boris Johnson’s Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the venue.
MailOnline understands the coronavirus patient who attended the conference was not the most recent case who was diagnosed on Wednesday in London.
It has already been eight days since the bus conference, so anybody who attended will be considered in the clear if they’re not ill by Thursday, February 20.
A Channel 4 employee, known not to be a journalist, has also been placed in self-isolation at home while awaiting the results of his coronavirus test.
The announcements come after a scare this morning at Heathrow Airport, where up to eight planes were held on the tarmac because of possible coronavirus cases on board.
Other developments in the coronavirus outbreak today include:
- Cleaners wearing hazmat suits disinfected a 37-storey tower block in London, where a resident with a fever was escorted from in an ambulance
- Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus, with the death toll close to 1,400 since the outbreak began at the end of December
- A total of 2,964 people in the UK have been tested for the coronavirus, of which 2,955 were confirmed negative and nine positive
- Top scientists have ruled out the coronavirus was engineered, dispelling rumours the never-before-seen virus had escaped from a lab
- Churchgoers were urged to avoid communion wine and shaking hands if they have ‘coughs and sneezes’ in coronavirus warning
- Amazon and eBay have been accused of cashing in on the coronavirus outbreak with comedy T-shirts making fun of the crisis
Lilian Greenwood MP said she was cancelling public engagements to be ‘extra-cautious’ after being warned by Public Health England that she might have come into contact with a coronavirus patient before they were diagnosed
In a Twitter thread Labour MP Alex Sobel said he had also been to the conference and would be cancelling his public engagements
Mr Sobel directed people to the NHS website in case they were worried about the coronavirus
He added that he did not feel unwell and was not experiencing symptoms of cornavirus, which include fevers and coughs
Mr Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, tweeted: ‘I attended the UK bus summit on the 6th Feb, where there was an attendee who has tested positive for coronavirus.
‘Whilst I have been informed that I am at very low risk, I have called 111 to be formally assessed.
‘As a precaution, we have canceled all engagements until next Thursday when the 14-day potential incubation period will end.’
Mr Sobel added: ‘If you think you may have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, self-isolate and call 111 for an assessment.’
In a later statement he added: ‘The advice that we’ve been given is that as long you feel well, then you can carry on as normal. Because myself and Lilian another MP, come into contact with a lot of people … we’ve taken this additional precaution,’ The Guardian reported.
Ms Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, tweeted: ‘Eight days ago, I spoke at the UK Bus Summit. This morning I received this advice from Public Health England.
‘I’m feeling completely well but to be extra-cautious I’m cancelling my public engagements until 20th February. Sorry for any inconvenience.’
Attached was a letter from Public Health England (PHE) telling anyone who develops flu-like symptoms to self-isolate at home and call the NHS’ 111 helpline.
The email said: ‘While the degree of contact you may have had with the case at the summit is unlikely to have been significant, we are taking a precautionary approach and informing you.’
Dr Yimmy Chow, consultant in health protection at PHE, said: ‘One of our main priorities has been to identify any people who we think have been in close contact with confirmed cases of coronavirus to provide public health advice, as they may be at slightly increased risk of catching the virus.
‘While the degree of contact conference delegates may have had with the case is unlikely to have been significant, we have taken a precautionary approach and informed them of the situation.’
Also in attendance were David Brown, chief executive of bus company Go-Ahead, and Gareth Powell, head of Transport for London’s bus network.
Others on the panel with Ms Greenwood included Laura Murdoch from Transport Scotland and Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport.
More delegates were Clare Haigh of the Greener Journeys campaign group; Liverpool city councillor, Liam Robinson; Mark Fowles, of Nottingham City Transport; Robert Drewery, a director at bus manufacturer Optare; Lynn Cramman of Cobalt Business Park; David Tucker of the Federation of Small Businesses; Tom Thackray of the Confederation of British Industry and Ojay McDonald from the Association of Town & City Management.
People from all corners of the country attended the summit, which was held in one of the busiest areas of London.
The coronavirus patient who attended the conference was not the Chinese woman, the UK’s ninth case.
MailOnline understands the infected person was actually one of three patients in Brighton whose identities haven’t yet been revealed. The other three in the seaside city include ‘super-spreader’ Steve Walsh, and two doctors.
The patient’s presence in central London at a packed conference will spark fears among the hundreds of people there from the transport industry amid growing public anxiety about the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Mrs Greenwood shared a picture of a letter she was sent by Public Health England which warned her that she may have come into contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. It said she and other delegates of the summit did not need to do anything unless they started to feel ill
The summit’s speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station
The conference was held just yards from Parliament and was attended by David Brown, chief executive of bus company Go-Ahead, Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood and Gareth Powell, head of Transport for London’s bus network
The summit’s speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station
Concerns about the presence of the virus in London have escalated after a case was diagnosed there on Wednesday and it emerged another infected person travelled there for a bus conference
This morning Heathrow Airport was swept up in concerns about the virus’s presence in London when up to eight planes were put on lockdown over fears passengers on board had the coronavirus.
Travellers on the United Airlines Flight 901 from San Francisco were told by the captain to stay in their seats after landing because someone might have the contagious virus.
Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, told MailOnline passengers were told they could be on the runway for a while because ‘seven other planes’ also had suspected cases.
He revealed staff on the flight took a passenger to the back of the plane without wearing any protective gear or face masks and waited for health officials to come.
Passengers were made to fill out health forms before being allowed to leave 25 minutes later and were not told if anyone on the plane had the virus.
Officials at Public Health England and Heathrow refused to confirm or deny this morning’s events, which may have affected hundreds of people.
But a statement from United Airlines confirmed its plane had been put on lockdown.
It read: ‘Our team at London Heathrow Airport is providing assistance related to United flight 901 (San Francisco-London Heathrow) today, following reports of an individual becoming unwell on board.
‘The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority and we continue to work closely with local authorities.’
London has been on red alert for more coronavirus cases after the capital’s first confirmed patient took herself to A&E in an Uber on Sunday and walked into a public area of Lewisham Hospital – going against strict advice to stay at home and ring NHS 111.
Two healthcare workers who came into contact with the Chinese woman at the hospital have been told to self-isolate and the taxi driver’s account has been temporarily suspended.
The latest coronavirus patient went to A&E in Lewisham in an Uber. When it was revealed she might be infected with the illness, an ambulance was called to take her home after tests
Nearly 1,400 patients have been killed by coronavirus since the outbreak began in Wuhan
Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus after China reported 5,000 new cases yesterday
Amazon has several coronavirus T-shirts still on sale and has refused to withdraw them
This shirt was on sale on eBay for £15.45 but the auction site has now removed it and others
Auction site eBay says tops like this breach its ‘Disaster and Tragedy Policy’ and removed them
The woman, who contracted coronavirus in China, ‘self-presented’ at Lewisham Hospital before being sent home to await the results of tests.
She was rushed to St Thomas’s on Wednesday after her test results returned positive. She is believed to live with family in London and thought to be in her late 20s or early 30s.
Official advice from PHE states that anyone who suspects they have coronavirus should stay at home, call NHS 111 and await transport to the nearest hospital assessment pod.
The Chinese patient was the first case in London and doctors are worried that the disease’s emergence in the capital will lead to it spreading quickly.
Amid fears of the virus in the capital, people have been avoiding London’s Chinatown in Soho.
The normally-bustling tourist hotspot were eerily deserted last night, with restaurants left empty just weeks after Chinese new Year.
Doctors warned the London Underground could be a hotbed for the virus, which can survive on handrails for hours and spreads via people’s breath.
London’s Chinatown stands eerily deserted as thousands of revellers keep their distance from the tourist spot as coronavirus panic sweeps the UK
The normally-busy restaurants are empty just weeks after Chinese New Year after Britain’s ninth confirmed case of the virus, a woman who travelled from China, became the first in the capital
With streets of the central-London venue usually fit to burst with visitors looking to sample the variety of restaurants or browse the Chinese- run super markets, last night was a stark contrast
Wales market stall-holder Su Chu Lu had been to Taiwan – an island off the coast of China – to visit her family, but when she came back neighbours had turned on her. Pictured: A nearly deserted Chinatown restaurant. There is no suggestion that restaurant staff are infected by the virus
Dr Robin Thompson, an expert in mathematical epidemiology at Oxford University, said: ‘In general, if an initial case is in a densely populated area, then the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission following is higher. This is exacerbated by the fact that London is a transport hub, and the Underground could provide a network to spread the virus quickly.’
Yesterday morning paramedics in hazmat suits turned up to a flat in Paddington, central London, after a patient reported symptoms. Video footage shows a man in a black hoodie walking into an ambulance at 9.45am with two staff members in full body gowns.
One of the medics was said to have told bystanders there was ‘a confirmed case in the building’ and asked if people could refrain from taking pictures.
Elsewhere, two GP surgeries were closed after patients with suspicious symptoms turned up unannounced.
The Ritchie Street Health Centre in Islington, north London, posted a message on its website stating it would be closed until today ‘due to the coronavirus’.
However it has emerged that no patients or staff at the practice have tested positive for the virus – and it remains unclear why management took the decision to shut.
NHS officials say the move may have been precautionary after a patient was tested for the virus after turning up at the practice with symptoms.
Paramedics in hazmat suits march into a flat in central London hours after the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the capital
Two medics in full protective gowns, gloves and face masks got out of an ambulance and carried heavy-duty rucksacks into a block of flats in Paddington at 9.45am and brought a man in a black hood out with them
The Ferns Medical Practice in Farnham, Surrey, said that it was undertaking a deep clean after a patient had come in after visiting ‘one of the affected coronavirus areas’.
Some 2,512 people in Britain have been tested since last month. Patients with suspected coronavirus have swabs taken of their nose and throat which are sent to one of 12 labs across the UK.
Results usually come back within 48 hours – although they can be turned around in 24 hours – and the NHS can test a maximum of 1,000 patients in a day.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said officials were hoping to delay the spread of the coronavirus in this country until the summer.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Delay is the next stage of what we need to do because if we are going to get an outbreak in the UK – this is an if, not a when – but if we do, putting it back in time into the summer period, away from winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better… is a big advantage.’
He added that while it was ‘highly likely’ the UK would see more cases, the disease could be ‘dampened’ as the weather got warmer.
The head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, said that to contain the spread many more patients would need to self-isolate at home if they had suspicious symptoms.
Praising the coronavirus evacuees who left the Wirral yesterday after 14 days of isolation, he said the Arrowe Park Hospital ‘guests’ had ‘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’.
A cabin is being used as an isolation pod at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester
At Eastbourne District General Hospital, windowless shipping containers at the side of what appears to be a road in the hospital grounds are used
The developments come as a parents of a baby in Brighton fear he may have the coronavirus after he was treated by one of the infected GPs in the city.
At least two doctors in Brighton are known to have caught the bug while on holiday with ‘super-spreader’ businessman, Steve Walsh, who caught it in Singapore.
The eight-month-old has ‘all the symptoms’ associated with the virus, including a boiling temperature, coughing fits, runny nose and extreme fatigue, according to his mother Stephanie Adlam.
She says her terrified family say they are living ‘in hell’ because James’ four-year-old sister may also have been exposed.
James, who has blood defect haemophilia and a long-term lung condition, is now in isolation at home.
The family were taken to Worthing A&E by paramedics in full hazmat suits on Wednesday for tests. They are anxiously waiting the results which come back today.
The boy’s father said: ‘My little boy has haemophilia and a lung condition, so he’s already poorly.
‘My ex-partner took him in to get checked out last Tuesday. We took him back yesterday morning, and as we arrived home at about 1pm we got a call from Worthing A&E.
‘They said both my son and his mum had been in direct contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, and told us to stay at home.’
He said both his children have ‘flu-like symptoms, everything associated with the virus’.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that the coronavirus outbreak is a ‘serious and imminent’ threat to the British public.
Makeshift coronavirus isolation ‘pods’ have emerged at hospitals across England as the country is on high alert for new cases of the illness.
The NHS has ordered all hospitals to set up the isolation booths so they can send people there if they are suspected to have SARS-CoV-2.
A crane delivers a cabin to University Hospital of North Tees, where it will be used as a coronavirus isolation pod
A contamination tent being set up outside A&E at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington a stone’s throw from the Lindo Wing where all of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children were born
Blackpool Victoria Hospital has attached a sign to a permanent building, indicating that suspected coronavirus patients should go there
Pictures show rusty portable cabins and windowless shipping containers being used for the purpose on the grounds outside of hospitals’ main buildings or in car parks.
Health service bosses said there must be facilities in place to keep suspected patients away from the general public while they’re assessed over the phone by medics.
Hospitals in London, Hartlepool, Stevenage, Preston, Blackpool, Eastbourne, Brighton and Bournemouth have been seen with the pods outside.
A letter sent from NHS England to hospital directors two weeks ago instructed them all to have the pods up and running by Friday, February 7.
It said: ‘As part of managing care in Emergency Departments, trusts are being asked to organise a ‘Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod’, which will mean people with symptoms indicative of infection will get quick assessment, while other patients also continue to get appropriate care.’
The letter said the pod must have a phone which is available 24 hours a day so worried patients can speak to a specialist response team at any time.
There must also be clear signs and posters directing people the the pod so they don’t have to come into contact with staff – people will not be allowed to just wander into the pods but must be referred there first.
Overnight, China reported another sharp rise in the number of people infected with the killer disease.
The National Health Commission said 121 more deaths were recorded yesterday, as well as 5,090 new confirmed cases.
The number of reported cases has been rising more quickly after the hardest-hit province changed its method of counting them.
There are now almost 64,000 confirmed cases in mainland China, of which 1,380 have died, according to the national body.
Medical workers check on the conditions of patients in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan on Thursday
Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician’s diagnosis and before they have been confirmed by lab tests.
The acceleration in the number of cases does not necessarily represent a sudden surge in new infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘I suspect but can’t be certain that the underlying trend is still downwards.
‘It almost certainly does not mean that there has been a resurgence of the epidemic overnight.’
The sharp rises is thought to have been caused by a change in the way doctors in Hubei – the province at the centre of the outbreak – are diagnosing the virus.
Officials decided that people who have virus symptoms, plus a CT scan showing chest infection, are now being counted as confirmed cases.
Cases were previously only being confirmed using specialized testing kits in a laboratory.
But authorities have had to switch to the broader diagnostic tools because they are running out of the kits and hundreds of patients are going untested.
It raises the prospect that deaths and infections could have been much higher if medics were using this method all along.
And it could mean that going forward, more cases will be reported every day in the Chinese province.
The official death toll now sits at 1,380 after China reported 121 new patients had been killed by the virus overnight.
This sparked confusion as it was reported on Thursday that 1,370 people succumbed to the illness.
Coronavirus has killed six health workers in China and infected more than 1,700 since the outbreak began, Beijing said today.
Shortages of masks and protective gear have sparked a crisis for medical staff as they deal with more than 60,000 cases of the deadly virus.
Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China’s national health commission, said today that 1,102 of the 1,716 infected health workers caught the virus in the city of Wuhan.
Another 400 were infected elsewhere in Hubei province, the region at the centre of the outbreak which is under drastic quarantine measures.
Chinese authorities have scrambled to deploy protective gear to Wuhan’s hospitals where doctors and nurses have been overwhelmed by the outbreak.
Many doctors in Wuhan have had to see patients without proper masks, having to re-use the same equipment when it should be changed regularly.
One doctor at a community clinic in Wuhan said he and at least 16 other colleagues were showing symptoms similar to the virus, including lung infections and coughing.
The risks to medical staff were highlighted last Friday when Li Wenliang, a doctor who had been reprimanded for trying to raise the alarm about the virus, died of the Covid-19 disease.
His death unleashed an outpouring of public anger on Chinese social media, with academics in Wuhan writing an open letter demanding reform and free speech.