Five people in the UK have tested negative for the novel coronavirus originating in China, while nine others are waiting for results, Public Health England (PHE) has said.
There have been more than 800 cases confirmed around the world, and at least 26 people have died of the disease in China.
‘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,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘The UK is one of the first countries to develop a world-leading test for coronavirus, the NHS is ready to respond appropriately to any cases that emerge, clinicians in both primary and secondary care have already received advice covering initial detection and investigation of possible cases, infection control and diagnostics. The public can be assured that the whole of the UK is always well prepared for these type of outbreaks and we will remain vigilant and keep our response under constant review in light of emerging scientific evidence.’
According to the World Health Organization, fever, cough or chest tightness, and dyspnoea are the main symptoms reported. While most cases report a mild illness, severe are also being reported, some of whom require intensive care. A small number of fatalities have been reported.
‘This is a new and rapidly evolving situation where information on cases and the virus is being gathered and assessed daily,’ said Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, PHE. ‘Based on the available evidence, the current risk to the UK is considered low. We are working with the WHO and other international partners, have issued advice to the NHS and are keeping the situation under constant review.’