Coronavirus: Britain declares deadly outbreak as 'serious, imminent threat to public health'
London, Feb 10: The United Kingdom on Monday declared the deadly coronavirus that emerged from China as a "serious and imminent threat to public health''. The UK Department of Health and Social Care announced that new measures would be taken up to combat the spread of the disease. It also said people with the virus would now be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave.
The UK's health and social care has named two British hospitals as isolation facilities for those affected by the disease and designated the Chinese city of Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province where the virus first emerged as a "infected area."
"The incidence or transmission of the novel coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health, and the measures outlined in these regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus," the agency said in a statement.
The agency also said that the changes were designed to ensure the health and safety of medical workers who came into contact with infected patients. The change comes after a British man who caught the virus at a business conference in Singapore in January appears to be linked to at least seven other confirmed cases in Europe.
A 9-year-old boy, including five Britain citizens contracted the virus in the French Alpine ski town of Contamines-Montjoie after staying in the same chalet as the British man. Recently, scores of children and their family members were tested by the French medical authorities from the area for the new virus and temporarily closed three schools where the boy had spent time.
Also, China, in a statement said that 908 people had died of the virus on the mainland and over 40,170 had been infected. More than 360 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China, including two deaths in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Britain has only four of Europe's 39 confirmed virus cases but it is a key travel hub between Asia and Europe. British authorities sought to reassure the public on Monday.
"Our infection control procedures are world-leading and the NHS (National Health Service) is well prepared to deal with novel coronavirus," the agency said. "This measure will rightly make it easier for health professionals to help keep people safe across the country."
In India, Goa health minister Vishwajit Rane, on Monday said that the state government has set up isolation wards at Chichalim and Goa Medical College and Hospital.
"As far as Goa is concerned, I don't think there is any fear on coronavirus. Till now, there are no positive cases reported in Goa," Vishwajit told reporters.
(With Inputs from PTI)