Two coronavirus cases in the UK as WHO declare outbreak as a ‘global emergency’

pharmafile | January 31, 2020 | News story | Medical Communications Chinese Coronavirus, MERS, Wuhan Coronavirus, coronavirus, sara 

Two people have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus in the UK, they are both part of the same family and currently under specialised NHS care.

in response to the news Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread. We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately.”

Whitty also said the UK was working closely with the World Health Organization and the international community to prepare for more cases.

This comes on the same day that the World Health Organisation has declared a global emergency. WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “In the past few weeks we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak and which has been met by an unprecedented response. China is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak despite the severe social and economic impact that is having on China.”

This declaration gives WHO greater powers to direct the response as the danger to the coronavirus could be devastating if it spreads to countries with weak public health systems.

Out of the 9,320 cases of the coronavirus, only 98 have been outside China, with a small number of cases outside of the country transmitted by human to human contact. The US reported the first such foreign case on Thursday.

The outbreak began on 12 December, and has been traced to a Wuhan market that sold meat and animals. The disease is thought to come from animal products. Currently known as 2019-nCoV, the virus is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus not previously identified in humans.

This episode is reminiscent of the SARS epidemic in 2003 that spread to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada; it killed 774 people and infected over 8,000. Chinese scientists reported that they had generated the genetic sequence of the new virus and it is a coronavirus that is in the same group as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).

Conor Kavanagh


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