10 February 2020 20:19
Two healthcare workers have been diagnosed with coronavirus, Public Health England has said, as a GP surgery was closed after it was linked to a UK case of the illness. County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton - where one of the healthcare workers is reported to be based - has been shut, with a person in protective clothing seen cleaning the premises on Monday. Brackley Medical Centre in Northamptonshire says it has also closed "due to a potential coronavirus incident" but insists it does not have a confirmed case. It was revealed on Monday that four more patients in England have been diagnosed with the coronavirus - including the two healthcare workers - bringing the total number of cases in the UK to eight. The four people infected are all understood to be contacts of a businessman who contracted the virus at a conference in Singapore and was diagnosed in Brighton last week.
The Department of Health said the four people in the UK who have newly-diagnosed with the coronavirus contracted the illness in France. The UK government has declared coronavirus a "serious and imminent threat to public health", with new legal powers announced on Monday allowing people with the virus to be be forcibly quarantined. It is understood that the decision was in response to one of the Britons who returned from Wuhan in China - the source of the coronavirus outbreak - attempting to leave isolation at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside. A GP surgery in Brighton has temporarily closed after a member of its staff contracted coronavirus. The County Oak Medical Centre, in Caden Hill, says on its answerphone message it has been forced to close because of "an urgent operational health and safety reason".
Four more patients in England tested positive for the viral pneumonia on Monday - all known contacts of a businessman who was diagnosed in Brighton last week. Public Health England says two of these cases are healthcare workers. Public Health England Medical Director Yvonne Doyle said: "As a result of our contact tracing we now know the new cases announced today are all closely linked to one another. "Our priority has been to speak to those who have close and sustained contact with confirmed cases, so we can advise them on what they can do to limit the spread of the virus. "Two of these new cases are healthcare workers and as soon as they were identified, we advised them to self-isolate in order to keep patient contact to a minimum. "We are now working urgently to identify all patients and other healthcare workers who may have come into close contact, and at this stage we believe this to be a relatively small number." A handwritten sign on the door advises patients to 'contact NHS 111' as the centre is closed. The World Health Organisation described the "onward transmission" between UK cases as "concerning", adding: "The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire." Signs on the doors of the County Oak Medical Centre advise patients to "stop" and not enter if they believe they have come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus. The latest four cases of coronavirus in the UK are all known contacts of a businessman who was tested positive for the virus on 6 February. The Brighton businessman with links to multiple other cases had attended a conference in Singapore last month. Staff at a isolation unit in Merseyside for repatriated British nationals wear protective face masks. The PA news agency understands the decision was in response to one of the Britons who returned from Wuhan attempting to leave isolation. A Government source said "there was someone who was threatening to abscond from Arrowe Park" - the quarantine facility in Merseyside where Britons repatriated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, are staying. The Royal Free Hospital said two of the patients had been taken for treatment at its high consequence infectious disease treatment centre.