THE first coronavirus case has been confirmed in London today as the deadly bug spread to the capital.
The woman contracted the virus in China and flew to the UK where she tested positive at a hospital in central London this afternoon.
It takes the number of cases in the UK to nine as officials scramble to find everyone she had been in contact with.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England said: “One further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine.
“This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.”
It comes as…
- Dad’s agony as eight-month-old son becomes youngest Brit treated for suspected coronavirus
- Man Utd star Odion Ighalo ‘quarantined’ and banned from training ground over deadly bug fears
- Hospitals to set up “assessment pods” to keep suspected victims away from A&Es
- Twelve schools placed on infection alert as panicked parents pull kids out of class
- Super-spreader Stephen Walsh is out of hospital as dozen others at risk are traced
London’s congested transport network and 8.9million population will make it a nightmare to track down potential victims to be tested.
Scientists have warned that London is at a greater risk than any other city in Europe due to the number of Chinese visitors that flock there each year.
More than 142,000 tourists arrive in London from China between January and the middle of March every year.
Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said: “If confirmed, it is not surprising that London has seen its first case of the coronavirus.
“It’s a city of over 10 million people with several major international airports.
“Both London and the rest of the UK can expect to see more cases, though hopefully these will continue to be isolated cases and seen in small numbers.”
A total of 1,759 people have been tested for coronavirus in the UK, of which 1,750 were confirmed negative and now nine positive.
Five cases have been confirmed in Brighton, two cases in York, another in an undisclosed location and the ninth diagnosis in London.
It comes as 12 schools in Sussex have been placed on infection alert as teachers and pupils are told to quarantine themselves.
Five people in the county have been diagnosed with coronavirus and dozens who came into contact with them have been ordered to self-isolate by Public Health England (PHE).
Since then, schools in Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne have pupils or staff in quarantine as a precaution.
Brighton has become the epicentre of the virus after a cub Scout leader — dubbed the coronavirus “super-spreader” — unwittingly brought it into the UK last month following a business trip to Singapore.
Stephen Walsh, 53, from Hove, may have spread the virus to dozens of people without suffering any symptoms himself.
His next-door neighbour, Ian Henshall, 59, said Mr Walsh is now “very concerned” that he will be held responsible for the outbreak.
Mr Henshall told the Mirror: “I’ve spoken to his wife Cathy directly and to Steve by email and they are absolutely terrified of being made scapegoats for all this which would be totally unfair.”
Mr Walsh was discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital today after being analysed in its isolation unit.
The sales executive, 53, said: “I’m happy to be home and feeling well.
“I want to give a big thank you to the NHS who have been great throughout and my thoughts are with everyone around the world who continues to be affected by the virus.
“It’s good to be back with my family and I would ask you please to respect our privacy from this point on”.
As well as schools, the County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton, East Sussex, was closed while staff in hazmat suits deep cleaned the surgery.
Meanwhile, a second doctor’s surgery in the city — the Lions Dene surgery — linked to super-spreader Mr Walsh, closed.