Coronavirus has infected more than 40,000 people globally, mostly in China, and the total number of deaths in China has now reached 908. The Department of Health has described coronavirus as a “serious and imminent threat” to public health, but the overall risk level to the UK remains “moderate”. But coronavirus could become a problem in the UK if “selfish” people abscond from quarantine, warned Dr Hilary.
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Taking to ITV’s Lorraine, Dr Hilary said the UK shouldn’t be worried about coronavirus at this stage.
He explained: “I think people are becoming concerned. I’ve had a few emails from people saying, ‘look my children have got immune problems, they’ve got to go to the specialist hospital, should we be travelling?’
“Of course. We’ve got eight confirmed cases in the UK amongst a population of 65 million, so this is hardly a major problem at the moment.”
But Dr Hilary added: “But it could become one if selfish people want to abscond from quarantine.”
Explaining the circumstance of people being placed in quarantine, Dr Hilary said: “So they’ve been flown back from the epicentre of a pandemic, they’ve been flown back free or charge, put up in a three star facility, given all the food they require, and every facility they could possibly want, but they have to understand that if they are carrying this virus, and they abscond from the quarantine, then they can infect the rest of the world.”
The coronavirus mortality rate is likely to be relevant in the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, added Dr Hilary.
He said: “For young fit people it’s probably like most other flu viruses.
“Most people will recover from it, so we shouldn’t get it out of perspective.”
The most recent cases of coronavirus in the UK have been linked to a British man who caught the virus at a conference in Singapore and travelled to a ski resort in France.
He was then diagnosed in Brighton before being treated at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
The man is also linked to the fourth UK patient, who was exposed to the virus in France.
Five British nationals tested positive in France following his trip to the ski resort.
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What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new respiratory illness that’s not previously been seen in humans.
The virus originated from Wuhan in Hubei Province, China, and while it’s known exactly how it’s spread from person to person, similar viruses are spread by cough droplets.
Symptoms of coronavirus
There are three symptoms which have been linked to the virus. The NHS lists these as:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Feeling short of breath
How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus
The NHS also lists things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
- If you have arrived back from China or specified areas in the last 14 days, follow the advice on this page for returning travellers.
Treatment for coronavirus
If you get a cough, high temperature or feel short of breath within 14 days of returning from China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people and call NHS 111 to tell them of your recent travel.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885.
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