UK cases treated in Newcastle
The FT’s Bethan Staton has been at a UK government briefing on the coronavirus, and has the latest:
Two members of the same family are being treated for coronavirus at a specialist unit in Newcastle. It is not known how many people they have been in contact with.
Sharon Peacock, national infection service director at Public Health England, said an outbreak investigation team had been immediately deployed to identify those who had been involved in the cases.
Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said the government was “confident” of its ability to contain the spread of the virus.
“All developed health services that have had cases have managed to avoid transmission,” he said.
The government is now advising anyone who has been to the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started, to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of whether they have symptoms. Anyone returning from elsewhere in China should self-isolate if they experience symptoms, however minor.
There have so far been 9,692 reported cases in China and 213 deaths, the government said. There has been no sustained transmission of the virus or deaths outside China.
Mr Whitty said it would become clear “in the next few weeks” if the outbreak in China would be brought under control, during which time the government would be focused on treating and limiting the spread of a small number of cases of the virus in the UK.
If the rate of transmission does not fall within China, however, the virus would be likely to spread globally, presenting a greater risk. Mr Whitty said the UK had “established systems” and was “well prepared” for either circumstance.