Nearly 1,500 people were tested for coronavirus in one day

Coronavirus fears grip Britain as officials reveal nearly 1,500 people were tested for the deadly infection in one day

  • None of the 1,392 newly tested patients in the UK were positive for SARS-CoV-2
  • But the extraordinary figure, the highest daily toll, reflects growing public fears
  • More than 71,000 people have now caught the virus, and almost 1,800 have died
  • Do you have a story about coronavirus? Email [email protected] 

Coronavirus fears have gripped Britain with officials carrying out tests for the killer virus on 1,400 more people across the home nations.

None tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 but the extraordinary figure – the highest in a day so far – reflects growing public anxiety.

More than 4,500 people have now been tested in the UK. Only nine patients have been diagnosed with the never-before-seen virus on British soil. 

Health officials fear more cases will crop up, with leading scientists warning hopes of stopping a outbreak are ‘fading by the day’.

More than 71,000 people have now caught the virus, including nine in the UK. And nearly 1,800 across the world have died.

More than 4,500 people have now been tested in the UK. Only nine patients have been diagnosed with the never-before-seen virus on British soil

This is the coronavirus super-spreader Steve Walsh, who inadvertently infected 11 people with the disease on a ski break in the Alps, left St Thomas’ Hospital in London today


Dr Catriona Saynor (pictured left) quit as a partner in Brighton to live permanently in the French chalet where the British super-spreader visited to ski. She works at County Oak Medical Centre as a locum, according to the medical centre’s website. Her husband Bob and their nine-year-old son are also said to have been confirmed with coronavirus

Cases in the UK and where they are being cared for:

Newcastle: Two Chinese nationals who came to the UK with coronavirus and fell ill while at a hotel in York. One was a student in the city and another was his mother. They were the first two cases on British soil and were confirmed on January 31. They were treated at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Steve Walsh:  The first British coronavirus victim became known as a super-spreader. He picked up the virus in Singapore and flew for a ski break in France afterwards where he appears to have infected at least 11 people. He was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in London from Brighton on February 6 – but was released on February 12 after recovering.

Dr Catriona Saynor, who went on holiday with Mr Walsh and her husband, Bob, and their three children, is thought to be the fourth patient in the UK diagnosed with coronavirus. Her husband and nine-year-old son were also diagnosed but remained in France. She was taken to a hospital in London on February 9 from Brighton. She was thought to be at the Royal Free in Camden. 

Four more people in Brighton were diagnosed and were all ‘known contacts’ of the super-spreader and are thought to have stayed in the same French resort. One is known to be an A&E doctor and is believed to have worked at Worthing Hospital. Another attended a bus conference in Westminster on February 6. They were all being treated in London.

London: The first case of the coronavirus in London brought the total number of cases in the UK to nine. The woman was diagnosed on February 12, after going to A&E in an Uber. She was then taken to St Thomas’ Hospital. She is thought to have flown into the UK from China the weekend before, with officials confirming she caught the virus there.

Total in UK hospitals: Nine patients. Six Britons and three Chinese nationals 

British expats and holidaymakers outside the UK and where they are being cared for:

Majorca: A British father-of-two who stayed in the French ski resort with Steve Walsh tested positive after returning to his home in Majorca. His wife and children are not ill.

France: Five people who were in the chalet with the super-spreader. These include the chalet’s owner, environmental consultant Bob Saynor, 48, and his nine-year-old son. They are all in a French hospital with three unnamed others. Another Brit who stayed at a chalet in the Les Contamines-Montjoie resort tested positive on February 15. 

Japan: A British man on board a cruise ship docked at a port in Japan tested positive for coronavirus, Princess Cruises said. Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, posted on Facebook that he had been diagnosed with the virus. Steele said he was not showing any symptoms but was being taken to hospital. He was on his honeymoon. Two more Britons have since tested positive for on a quarantined cruise ship.

Total: Ten

Department of Health figures show 4,501 have been tested – up from the 3,109 that had been swabbed for the virus yesterday.

Public Health England earlier this month announced thousands of patients across the UK would be tested for coronavirus every day.

Precautions were taken up a notch after a third British person – the ‘super-spreader’ Steve Walsh – tested positive on February 6.

Twelve laboratories in the UK now have the capacity to analyse swabs taken from suspected patients, up from just one in the early days of the outbreak.

All but one of the nine UK patients who tested positive for the coronavirus were discharged from hospital on Saturday following two negative tests, NHS England said.

The only patient still in hospital is the ninth case – a Chinese woman who flew into London last weekend and took an Uber to A&E at Lewisham Hospital.

She was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where she is thought to still be receiving treatment. It is unclear when she will be released. 

Steve Walsh, the Brighton coronavirus ‘super-spreader’ who accidentally infected 11 people staying in the same French ski chalet, was the first patient in Britain to be released from hospital. 

The 53-year-old scout leader left the isolation unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London on February 12. He picked up the deadly disease at a Singapore business conference last month and inadvertently spread it on his 6,736-mile journey home to Hove via the Alps. 

Discussing the release of the eight patients, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was ‘pleased’ they were successfully treated and discharged from hospital. 

It comes after Sir Richard Branson last night claimed he is in talks with the Government about rescuing 74 Britons stuck on board a cruise ship plagued by coronavirus.

A couple trapped onboard The Diamond Princess last Friday begged the billionaire to help and asked how much it would cost to repatriate the group. 

Sir Richard last night revealed his airline Virgin Atlantic was ‘in discussions’ with UK officials over whether it could help the stranded Brits.

Ministers are considering ‘all options’ to repatriate the Brits on board the ship, which has been docked off the coast of Yokohama since February 3.

But pressure is mounting on Number 10 to take action, with furious Brits quarantined on board saying they feel abandoned and ‘forgotten’. 

One passenger even told Prime Minister Boris Johnson it was ‘about time’ he stepped in. The US has already evacuated 340 citizens on two cargo planes. 

Sir Richard was asked on Twitter to help David and Sally Abel, the couple on board the Diamond Princess who appealed for his help on Valentine’s Day.

He replied: ‘Virgin Atlantic does not fly to Japan, but we are in discussions with the UK government and seeing if there is anything we can do to help.’

The Foreign Office, which handled the three British evacuation flights out of Wuhan, has yet to give an official update on the situation.

Sir Richard Branson last night revealed his airline Virgin Atlantic was ‘in discussions’ with UK officials over whether it could help the stranded Brits

There are more than 3,000 people on board the Diamond Princess, which has been held at a port near Yokohama, Japan, since February 3 with passengers not allowed to leave

David Abel, a British man on board the ship said it feels like British people have been ‘forgotten’ as other countries send airlifts to bring their citizens home

Sir Richard was asked on Twitter to help David and Sally Abel, the couple on board the Diamond Princess who appealed for his help on Valentine’s Day

WHERE HAS THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD TO?

COUNTRIES  

CHINA

DIAMOND PRINCESS

SINGAPORE

JAPAN

HONG KONG

THAILAND

SOUTH KOREA

MALAYSIA

TAIWAN

VIETNAM

GERMANY

AUSTRALIA

US

FRANCE

MACAU

UK

UAE

CANADA

INDIA

PHILLIPINES

ITALY

RUSSIA

SPAIN

EGYPT

BELGIUM

SWEDEN

FINLAND

NEPAL

SRI LANKA

CAMBODIA

WORLD TOTAL

CASES

70,552

454                               

75

65

57

35

30

22

20

16

16

15

15

11

10

9

9

8

3

3

3

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

71,439

Officials are thought to be considering bringing the holidaymakers home or sending them into a 14-day quarantine on the Japanese mainland. 

Last week, Mr Abel, from Daventry in Northamptonshire, appealed to Sir Richard to charter a special plane to rescue British nationals from the ship. 

Mr Abel made the appeal during a Facebook live video, in which the ‘staunch Tory’ admitted he had ‘no confidence’ in Mr Johnson. 

He said: ‘When he [Mr Johnson] just says “keep calm, don’t panic” – I’d like to see you in this situation, mate. I really would.’ 

In a video posted on Valentine’s Day, Mr Abel added: ‘So, Richard Branson, I want to ask you a question, pal.

‘If you and your family were in this situation, what would you do? And please don’t say ‘chill out, stay calm’, that’s not what we want to hear.

‘I’m asking, what would it cost to hire one of your smaller planes, put all the Brits onboard, no flight attendants, packaged food?

‘Take us to Brize Norton, take us straight into the medical facility and let us do our quarantine there by people who can speak our language.’ 

‘I’m serious, Richard Branson, absolutely serious. I think he is the man, he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He’s the guy who could resolve this for the Brits.’  

The British Government was accused of ‘dragging its feet’ for its delay in confirming details of the first evacuation flight, which went ahead on January 31.

Government sources blamed Beijing for holding up efforts to repatriate 200 expats stuck in the deserted Chinese city.

This was despite the US and Japan launching rescue missions before officials had even confirmed its first of three flights.   

There were around 3,700 people on the Diamond Princess when it sailed into Japan more than two weeks ago.

The speed at which new cases of the virus are being discovered is beginning to slow after a huge surge when Chinese officials changed the way they diagnosed it

More than 71,000 people around the world have now been diagnosed with the coronavirus – the Diamond Princess cruise ship is the worst affected place outside of China

More than 300 Americans decided to abandon ship and fly home yesterday. 14 people were discovered to have the virus during the evacuation so were quarantined in a tent on the plane

The State Department confirmed that, after the evacuees had been placed on buses to the airport, 14 people who were not showing symptoms had tested positive for the virus – and were then placed into isolation chambers (pictured) 

SELF-CONFESSED HEALERS ARE TRYING TO SELL BOGUS CURES FOR THE KILLER CORONAVIRUS FOR £80 A TIME

People claiming to be healers are trying to sell bogus cures for the killer coronavirus for up to £80 a time online.

Users on an online marketplace have been trying to cash in on the crisis, which has left governments around the world on red alert.

Sellers on Fiverr claim to be able to cure the virus or protect against it using ‘healing energy’, ‘bio magic principles’ and ‘Islamic method’.

Prices range from £4 to £80 for the bizarre services which are completely untested, MailOnline can reveal.

The virus has no known cure and most patients who are struck down recover within a couple of weeks without needing medical treatment. 

Those who develop more serious infections in their lungs, such as pneumonia, need expert medical care to stop their illness turning deadly.

But more than one in 10 of them have since been diagnosed with the coronavirus, which is officially known as SARS-CoV-2.

The virus appears to have been spreading on board despite passengers being told to stay in their cabins.

It is spread by coughs, sneezes and potentially even through inhaling the breath of someone who has the illness.

A confined environment like a cruise ship, where people spend weeks at a time in close quarters with one another, could be a hotbed for such an illness to spread.

In total, 519 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Japan – 454 of these have been among passengers of the Diamond Princess.

Anyone confirmed to have the illness has been taken to a hospital on the Japanese mainland. So far, none of the patients have died of the infection. 

The US yesterday took 340 of its citizens to Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, California, and Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.   

And a Holiday Inn near Heathrow airport has been closed for public bookings and will become a coronavirus quarantine centre, it emerged today.

The Department of Health today confirmed the £80-a-night ($105) hotel is block-booked ‘for as long as it is needed’ – until at least March.

Officials have confirmed the hotel will be used as a quarantine zone for any travellers to Heathrow who have tell-tale coronavirus symptoms.

It could also be used for Britons who are evacuated back to the UK from overseas, such as those on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The Government has already used a hotel in Milton Keynes as an isolation centre for 105 expats rescued from the deserted Chinese city of Wuhan.

An NHS accommodation block at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral was the only other designated zone for suspected SARS-CoV-2 patients.

More than 71,000 people have now caught the virus, including nine in the UK – one of whom is still in hospital. Nearly 1,800 across the world have died.

Three separate listings appear on the website Fiverr with claims the ‘healers’ who posted the listings 

The priciest listing is one which claims it can use ‘healing based on bio magic principles’ – £40 is the basic price, with two £20 extras added – one-day delivery and ‘I have infection’

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?

Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

Almost 1,800 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 71,000 have been infected. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases.  Here’s what we know so far:

What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.

By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. 

A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent similar to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.  

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to that date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed, but also far more widespread. 

Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region. 

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.

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