The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread across the globe, with more than 100 countries affected. Now, the United Kingdom has reported its sixth death related to the viral infection.
UK coronavirus toll
The total number of confirmed cases in the UK is now 382, with six deaths related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 has infected more than 119,000 people globally and has killed 4,284 people. Most of the infections and deaths occurred in Hubei Province in China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Credit: NIAID-RML
Italy, South Korea, and Iran had been 'hotspots' of the outbreak outside mainland China. Weeks after Wuhan City in Hubei Province went into lockdown, the virus has spread to over 100 other countries, with thousands of local transmissions now occurring.
The sixth death in the UK is a man in his early 80s who had underlying health issues. The virus is particularly dangerous for people who are over 60 years old and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
The United Kingdom has also reported 54 additional cases in just 24 hours. By comparison, 46 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the 24 hours to the morning of Mar. 9.
Health officials have also warned that the country is currently in the containment stage, while the next phase is a delay in the peak of cases. When an outbreak happens, the government may take drastic steps to prevent further infections, including closing schools and the cancellation of large public events. Working at home will also be encouraged.
Helpline giving out wrong information
Government officials have admitted that the NHS 111 online service has been giving out the wrong advice on coronavirus for travelers returning from Italy, the country with the most infections outside of China.
The online service told returning travelers from Italy there was no need to self-isolate if they had no symptoms, despite the Public Health England advising all those who came from Italy to stay at home for 14 days, the estimated incubation period of the virus.
Italy grapples with an ongoing health crisis, as the country remains in lockdown with 10,149 confirmed cases and a staggering 631 deaths.
Health officials recommend that those who arrive from Italy self-isolate or undergo quarantine even if they are feeling well. With the conflicting messages, travelers admitted they are confused on which advisory to follow. As of Mar. 11, the NHS 111 website has not been updated even though it is aware of the problem.
The NHS online support for coronavirus has a record high of more than 210,000 inquiries each day, with one million people making use of the website. The online service provides people in the UK with advice so as to free up clinical call handlers’ time so they can prioritize those who have COVID-19 symptoms.
Health Minister gets infected
The UK is experiencing what Iran encountered a week ago, top health officials getting infected. In Iran, the deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, contracted the virus while working to contain the virus. Now, the UK’s health minister Nadine Dorries has tested positive for COVID-19. She is the first member of the parliament (MP) to contract the disease.
“I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus. As soon as I was informed, I took all the advised precautions and had been self-isolating at home,” Dorries said in a statement.
“Thanks for so many good wishes. It’s been pretty rubbish, but I hope I’m over the worst of it now. More worried about my 84-year-old mom who was staying with me and began with the cough today. She is being tested tomorrow. Keep safe and keep washing those hands, everyone,” Dorries added.
It is not known how many meetings Ms. Dorries had attended before she tested positive. The Department of Health confirms she experienced the symptoms on Mar. 5, the same day she attended a Downing Street event. She has been in isolation since Mar. 6.
It is also not known how she encountered the virus, but concerns emerged as she met hundreds of people before she was diagnosed with the infection.
Guidance for employees
The UK government has released its guidance for employees, employers, and businesses, which involves providing recommendations for all employers and companies. The guidance will help companies to provide information for employees to prevent the spread of all respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
The guidance also provides information on what to do with suspected or confirmed cases, and travel advisories. Further, the guide also provides recommendations for absences incurred by sick employees amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Bank of England steps in
Hopes rise as Bank of England plans to announce a dramatic package of support for the British economy, which has taken a massive blow from the coronavirus outbreak. The package will help the country through the outbreak and limit the negative impacts of the epidemic on the economy.