Coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong

The government has convened its emergency Cobra committee as nine people in the UK wait to see if they have contracted coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will chair the meeting following 14 people being tested for the virus in the UK, including five in Scotland. Five of the 14 have so far been given the all-clear.

In China, the official death toll currently stands at 26, and the number of confirmed cases to date at 830. The central Chinese city of Wuhan, home to over 11 million people, was the origin of the outbreak. As of 8pm last night, cases had been confirmed in eight nations globally – seven in East Asia, and the U.S.

Almost 30 million people in China have been subjected to travel restrictions, while Disneyland Shanghai and sections of the Great Wall of China have been shut to visitors.

Four of the five suspected cases in Scotland are believed to have involved Chinese nationals.

The World Health Organization was expected to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern yesterday. They postponed their decision by a day after Chinese authorities took drastic measures to control the virus’s spread.

Professor Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director at PHE, said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I think it’s highly likely that we will have cases in the UK.”

Anyone confirmed as having contracted coronavirus in the UK will be transferred to one of England’s four interim Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease centres. GPs have been instructed by Public Health England (PHE) to isolate anyone suspected of having the virus.

This strain of coronavirus, which has never been encountered before, causes pneumonia in human hosts, with reports of sufferers experiencing coughing, fever and breathing difficulty. Chinese health authorities have confirmed human to human transmission. Other strains of the virus include MERS, and SARS, which killed 774 people between November 2002 and July 2003.

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