A DESPERATE hunt is underway today to find everyone who had contact with Britain’s first coronavirus victims after two members of the same family fell ill at a Yorkshire hotel.
Two patients have been quarantined in Newcastle after testing positive for the killer bug – as the rescue flight from Wuhan finally touched down in Britain this lunchtime.
Authorities are now desperately scrambling to contain the spiralling epidemic with fears up to 2,000 could be infected in the UK.
This afternoon, 83 Brits – including young kids – landed at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire after being rescued from the “ground zero” epicentre of Wuhan.
Live footage showed a woman and a young child disembarking from the plane after it touched down just after 1.30pm today.
The child walked down the steps before being scooped up and carried away.
Patrick Graham, one of the Brits on board the flight, posted live pictures from inside the plane and wrote: “The infected are coming.”
Maeve Clarke was on the flight and told LBC News the flight had been a “job well handled” and said: “We’re all safe.”
They will now be driven to the Wirral – where they will be tested and quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital for 14 days.
Earlier, Britain’s first coronavirus were put into isolation in Newcastle after testing positive for the killer bug.
Public Heath England confirmed they were staying in York when they “became unwell”.
Do you know the victims? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02077824351
It comes after Chinese tourists suffering coronavirus-symptoms were rushed to hospital from Staycity aparthotel in York city centre on Wednesday.
Dramatic video footage on Wednesday showed hazmat paramedics swooping on the hotel after a man travelling with two others reported feeling unwell.
Some rooms at the £140-a-night hotel have been sealed off and are being deep-cleaned today – but it is still open for business.
Hotel bosses today said they had been in touch with Public Health England but had no confirmation their guests were the confirmed victims.
A spokesman added: “Until more is known the apartment containing the group’s belongings will be cordoned off, along with surrounding rooms, after which the area will undergo a thorough environmental clean and disinfection.”
Health officials say they “are working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread” – amid frantic efforts to stop it spiralling out of control.
Official advice urges anyone who has come into close contact with coronavirus sufferers to “self-isolate” to prevent the infection spreading.
Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service at PHE, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with the confirmed cases.
“The two cases were staying in York when they became unwell.”
It comes as…
She added: “What they’ll be doing is aiming to contact everybody who has been in contact with these two cases and prevent onward transmission.”
It confirms fears the government acted too late to prevent the crisis hitting Britain, only putting in travel restrictions several days after the outbreak worsened in China.
Experts today said the news had come as no surprise and “is what we have been expecting for the last week” – despite repeated claims by ministers the crisis was “under control”.
It means England is the 23rd country or territory outside of China to have confirmed coronavirus cases.
Dr Michael Head, from the University of Southampton, warned how contagious and easily spread the deadly disease is.
He said: “Hopefully, as seen elsewhere, the case numbers will be very limited.
“But the key concern will be if there is significant human to human transmission.”
Official figures released today showed a total of 177 UK tests have concluded, of which 175 were confirmed negative and 2 positive.
Two students from Bristol and London were bundled out of accommodation yesterday with suited-up paramedics with suspected symptoms.
It comes as China has its deadliest day yet with the death toll reaching 213 and cases surging towards 10,000.
Despite today’s rescue flight bringing home some of the Brits, many remain stranded in Wuhan after Chinese authorities said anyone with a local passport should stay.
It has left British families facing a tough decision – to remain together in the deadly zone or split their family by flying some members home.
The evacuation came after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an international public health emergency.
Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have suspended flights from virus-hit China to the UK.
HIGH ALERT: Chief Medical Officer confirms two cases of coronavirus in the UK
Announcing the two cases in the UK, Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said: “We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus.
“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.
“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.
“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately.
“We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”
The British passengers on the evacuation flight – who have mainly been in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province – had to sign a contract agreeing to isolation before they could board the flight, and underwent temperature checks.
They will be taken by bus to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral where they will be housed in an NHS staff accommodation block with access to the internet.
Anyone with suspicious symptoms will be taken to the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital, which has a high-level infectious diseases unit.
What is coronavirus and how to spot the symptoms?
Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.
The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.
Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.
It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.
The symptoms include:
- A runny nose
- Cough and fever
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches
In most cases, you won’t know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.
There is no vaccine for coronavirus.
In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.
British citizen Chris Hill, who lives in Wuhan with his wife and four-year-old daughter, refused to take the offered flight as the FCO could not confirm he would be able to bring his daughter Renee with him as she is a Chinese citizen.
“With the current situation and the way the FCO is handling the diplomatic side of things, I’m just losing faith,” Mr Hill said.
The Chinese government does not recognise dual nationality, and it is believed people with Chinese citizenship were unable to leave the affected area.
Coronavirus hits UK: what you need to know
Killer coronavirus has reached the UK, with two Brits struck down with the infection.
Here’s what you need to know…
Where are the infected people in the UK?
It’s unclear where the coronavirus victims are at the moment.
But it’s understood they will have been taken to one of the UK’s four high level isolation units.
These include the Royal Free in London, Royal Liverpool Hospital, Newcastle Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.
What precautions can I take again coronavirus?
The virus is transmitted between people in droplets from coughing and sneezing and touching or shaking hands.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from catching 2019-nCoV is to be aware of the symptoms, which include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- High temperature
Most victims of the virus die from complications including pneumonia and swelling in the lungs.
It also causes swelling in the respiratory system, which can make it hard for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream – leading to organ failure and death.
Severe pneumonia can kill people by causing them to “drown” in the fluid flooding their lungs.
So far those who have died in China have been older or have a weakened immune system.
The best way to prevent catching any form of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It says that in order to reduce your risk of infection, you should:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with others.
You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze then throw it away and wash your hands.
Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important.
If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days:
- Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with other flu viruses
- Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the city
If you are in Northern Ireland, call your GP.
Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.
Should I wear a mask?
Chinese authorities have encouraged people to wear surgical masks to help stop the spread of the new virus.
But some infectious disease experts say that there’s little high-quality scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of them outside of a clinical setting.
Instead they say that washing your hands and avoiding people who are ill is way more important than wearing a mask.
Will it spread?
Coronavirus is spread through coughing, sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces.
Since the new infection emerged a month ago, cases have rapidly soared and spread borders.
In recent weeks, the first human-to-human transmission in people who have never been to China have been confirmed.
The World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Experts say that it was “only a matter of time” before the deadly bug hit the UK and warn it could spread – but it’s hoped cases will be “very limited”.
Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said: “The UK cases are unsurprising to see.
“Given the spread to other European and North American countries, it was really only a matter of time until the UK ended up with confirmed cases.
“Hopefully, as seen elsewhere, the case numbers will be very limited.
“The key concern will be if there is significant human to human transmission.”
What are the government doing?
Advanced monitoring at airports is being carried out on direct flights from China.
A team of public health experts have been established at Heathrow to support anyone who feels unwell.
This is in addition to medical staff who are already permanently based at all UK airports.
The government has issued clinical guidance for the detection and diagnosis and infection prevention and control.
The UK is now one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease.
Healthcare professionals who are contacted by a patient with symptoms following travel to Wuhan have been advised to submit samples to PHE for testing.
Individuals will be treated in isolation.