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Wednesday, Dec 02, 2020

Five in UK test negative for coronavirus with nine awaiting results

Fourteen people in the UK have been tested for coronavirus with five confirmed negative and nine still awaiting the results, Public Health England said.

PHE would not give a breakdown of where the people were tested and where the negative results were recorded.

However, the number is believed to include five people who had undergone tests for the virus in Scotland.

A statement from the Scottish government today said: ‘Following travel to Wuhan, China, two people confirmed as diagnosed with influenza are now being tested for Wuhan novel coronavirus as a precautionary measure only.

‘Three further people are also undergoing testing on a similar precautionary basis.

‘There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and the risk to the Scottish public remains low.’

One man in Belfast is also believed to have been treated for symptoms associated with coronavirus after being admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the tests were ‘purely precautionary’.

The outbreak of the deadly virus has killed 25 people and infected more than 600 worldwide.

Five Chinese cities have been put on lockdown as authorities attempt to contain the illness which is believed to have started in Wuhan.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said earlier it is ‘too early’ to declare an international public health emergency over the outbreak ‘given its restrictive and binary nature’.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said: ‘Make no mistake, this is though an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.’

He added that 584 cases had been reported to the WHO, including 17 deaths, with 575 of the overall cases and all the deaths reported in China.

Other cases have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said there is an ‘increased likelihood’ of cases of occurring in the UK.

In a statement to the House of Commons earlier today, Mr Hancock said that it was a ‘rapidly developing situation and the number of deaths and the number of cases is likely to be higher than those that have been confirmed so far and I expect them to rise further’.

He told MPs: ‘The chief medical officer has revised the risk to the UK population from “very low” to “low” and has concluded that while there is an increased likelihood that cases may arise in this country, we are well prepared and well equipped to deal with them.’

He added: ‘The UK is one of the first countries to have developed a world-leading test for the new coronavirus.

‘The NHS is ready to respond appropriately to any cases that emerge.’

The head of infection medicine at the University of Edinburgh Professor Jurgen Haas says he believes there will be many more cases from other cities in the UK.

British universities are taking urgent action to protect against the outbreak, warning students returning from China that they face being quarantined.

As a number of students prepare to head home for the Chinese New Year, the University of Chester says it has told students that they will not be readmitted without a suitable quarantine period.

The University of Aberdeen, which has a partnership with Wuhan University, said it was not aware of any students in Wuhan who have returned from the area recently.

But a spokesman said: ‘The university is aware of five members of staff who have visited Wuhan during the outbreak, four of whom returned to the university three or more weeks ago.

‘The remaining member of staff has a non-teaching role and is working from home as a precautionary measure.’

A Newcastle University spokesman added it had issued protection advice to around 300 students who have links to the Hubei province at the centre of the health scare, as well as offering support for those concerned.

It comes as millions of Chinese people planned to travel over the Lunar New Year.

Beijing and Hong Kong have cancelled some major festivities to prevent large crowds gathering together.

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