The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV or Wuhan coronavirus) is spreading like wildfire across the globe and health officials are racing to contain the virus. Experts in the United Kingdom warn that the country is facing a major coronavirus outbreak in the coming weeks as the number of confirmed cases rises to four, as more than 25 countries have reported increasing case toll.
The coronavirus started in Wuhan City in Hubei province in China in the last weeks of December 2019. In a matter of two months, the virus has spread to other countries across the globe, with the death toll topping 900, surpassing the SARS outbreak fatalities in 2002-2003. The number of confirmed cases increased to a staggering 40,000. Outside China, there are 288 confirmed cases, with one death in the Philippines and one in the USA.
Medics in white hazmat protective suits checking and scanning passengers on a plane for Wuhan coronavirus. Image Credit: Delpixel / Shutterstock
UK facing major outbreak in coming weeks
Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the outbreak is more likely to become a pandemic, with the increased and fast rate of infection. Piot co-discovered Ebola and the presence of HIV-AIDS in Africa. He said that due to the mode of transmission of the present coronavirus outbreak, the potential spread is higher, and it poses a greater threat to people across the globe.
The statement comes after a fourth patient has been diagnosed with coronavirus in the country, who contracted the virus in France after coming in contact with a previously confirmed case in the U.K.
Another patient in Majorca has tested positive for the coronavirus. Though his immediate family has not contracted the virus, health officials are working double-time to tract all individuals who may have met or encountered the patient.
The patient is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The country’s four cases have tested positive of the infection, from over 600 persons under investigation.
Final evacuation of Britons
The U.K. has repatriated the last batch of Britons who were stuck in the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan. The last batch and final evacuation landed in the country. More than 200 passengers landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Feb. 9, with all passengers subjected to medical evaluation and quarantine for 14 days.
The incubation period of the virus lasts between 7 and 14 days, so people who need to be in isolation may need two weeks to make sure they didn’t contract the infection.
The patients were taken to the Kents Hill Park Hotel in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire for the duration of the quarantine period to contain the virus and prevent its spread. Meanwhile, two British residents who wanted to go back to the U.K. from China were denied entry to the flight because they failed temperature checks.
No-Deal Brexit Style
The country ministers have imposed a “no-deal Brexit style” emergency plan as fears that China will shut down factories and cities for the coming months, leaving many nations, including Britain with the low supply of goods manufactured there.
The emergency plan aims to secure vital and important goods to conserve them until supply levels return to normal. The Department of Health has also been informed to make sure all medical supplies are enough to cover the period, especially that the virus is spreading in the country. Further, the business department is looking for alternative sources of some supplies, which may have high exposure in China.
Spread of infection outside China
The World Health Organization (WHO)’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the transmission of the coronavirus outside China may continue to increase, hence, countries should prepare for the possibility.
The health agency is pioneering a global research and innovation forum to fight the current coronavirus outbreak. Health officials will conduct the forum between Feb. 11 and 12 in Geneva, in collaboration with the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness. Leading scientists, government representatives, and health agencies will attend the forum to help develop new tools, vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other innovations to contain the spread of the deadly virus.