Update from Public Health England 14/02/20:
This week, we have seen the novel coronavirus outbreak continue to escalate and the World Health Organization has officially named the disease COVID-19. Five further patients in England tested positive for the infection this week, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine. Two of these five were healthcare workers, resulting in PHE asking a number of other healthcare colleagues to take precautionary and preventative action and self-isolate. I would like to thank the NHS in Sussex in particular this week for their professionalism in the way they responded to these cases locally.
PHE now has a very extensive and complex contact tracing operation underway with health protection teams around the country diligently talking to people that might have been in close contact with carriers of the virus to assess their risk, provide advice and ultimately prevent further spread. You can read an explanation about our approach to contact tracing in this blog.
On Thursday, the first cohort of people repatriated from China left the Arrowe Park Hospital facility in Wirral, where they have been in supported isolation since returning to the UK. Colleagues from PHE, NHS England, Wirral Council and indeed the surrounding community in the Wirral have done a superb job at supporting people in these difficult circumstances. This sincere message of thanks says it all.
Update from Public Health England 13/02/20:
The novel coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve and yesterday we had our third confirmed case. On Friday last week, a Foreign Office-chartered aircraft carrying 83 British nationals arrived in the UK from Wuhan and this week a further 11 people returned. They are currently spending 14 days in supported quarantine, which is one of the many precautionary measures being actioned to protect the UK and has involved a herculean effort by national government, the NHS, the emergency services and PHE. We have also launched a UK-wide public information campaign with advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from the infection.
Critical work is also being carried out in our specialist laboratories and this week, PHE sequenced the viral genome from the first two positive cases in the UK and made it available to the scientific community. Our findings suggest that the virus has not evolved in the last month. The government has pledged £20 million to support the international Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus, with the aim of advancing 2019-nCoV vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible. This funding will also support a better epidemiological and clinical understanding of the virus. PHE will be contributing to this with the full panoply of our talent, capabilities and knowledge.
The Secretary of State, Matt Hancock MP, announced this funding on his visit to our Porton Down campus, where he saw unique UK scientific capability to work with the novel coronavirus and test potential vaccines when they become available, as well as state of the art new laboratories that produce a world-leading treatment for childhood leukaemia.
The NJC has issued the attached circular containing advice about the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19…
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