London coronavirus: Search for people who came into contact with first case in the capital #nCoV2019 #COVID-19 #coronavirus #London #uk #wuhan #china #emergency #epidemic

Coronavirus Alert

A search was under way today for people who may have come into close contact with the first Londoner to be diagnosed with coronavirus.

The woman, a Chinese national believed to be in her 20s or 30s, arrived at Heathrow at the weekend on a flight from China.

She is understood to have contracted the virus in China but not to have been symptomatic on the plane, reducing the chances that she was infectious to others.

She was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital last night after tests on Sunday proved positive. She is the ninth case in the UK.

Health experts today raised concerns that the virus could have been spread if she had used public transport, though Public Health England says it is only likely if there is “close and sustained contact” — being within two metres of someone with symptoms for 15 minutes.

The Government’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, today said that not all fellow passengers on the plane would be contacted.

He told the BBC: “What happens with any case is you take a detailed history and story from the people and you work backwards through everybody they might have come into contact with.

“Sometimes that involves looking at planes if that is relevant, also who they have met.”

Anyone found to have been in close contact with the woman will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks.

Professor Whitty said the Government’s strategy was focused on containment of identified cases, delay, science and research, and mitigating the impact of any spread.

He said: “Delay is the next stage of what we need to do because if we are going to get an outbreak in the UK — this is an if, not a when — putting it back in time into the summer period, away from winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better … is a big advantage.”

It is not known whether the virus, which is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing, can survive on door handles or grab poles on buses or Tubes.

Dr Michael Head, of the University of Southampton, said: “The extensive London public transport system provides potential opportunities for transmission.

“However, it is not normally the main factor in the spread of an outbreak due to relatively short time periods of being in close proximity to an infected case.”

Courtesy of

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