The UK’s first two confirmed cases of coronavirus are receiving treatment in Newcastle. Two members of the same family have tested positive for the Wuhan strand of the coronavirus, which has claimed over 200 lives in China so far and infected almost 10,000 across the world.
The patients are believed to have travelled into the country recently, and are the first to be tested positively in the UK after 190 tests have returned negative. These confirmed diagnoses make England the 23rd country or territory outside of China to be hit by the virus, and the third country in Europe.
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty today confirmed that the two patients are in a high consequence infectious disease unit, with Guardian politics correspondent Kate Proctor stating that this is located in Newcastle. The hospital is yet to be identified but it has been speculated that the patients are being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital, one of only four hospitals in the country equipped to deal with infectious patients suffering from the virus. The Mirror has since reported that the patients are being treated in an isolation unit in the RVI.
The Department of Health has declined to reveal any further personal details of the patients, such as their ages or nationalities, and has refused to provide details of how long they have been in the UK or where they had stayed before becoming ill, though the Evening Standard has reported that the infected pair has recently travelled from China. It is unknown whether they are Newcastle residents but Public Health England has confirmed that the pair were staying in a StayCity Group hotel in York before being transferred to Newcastle overnight to be treated at the RVI. It is also unknown how many people they may have had contact with before being diagnosed, and whether they are students. An outbreak investigation team is tracing individuals who have been in recent contact with the patients.
Students across campus have been spotted wearing face masks as a precautionary measure. The University issued a statement last Thursday, which can be found here.
When approached by ChronicleLive, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment.
Last modified: 10th February 2020