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Brighton schoolteacher in isolation over coronavirus one day after alert at GP clinic
11 February 2020, 09:19 | Updated: 11 February 2020, 10:00
A teacher at a school in Brighton is reportedly in self-imposed isolation, one day after a GP's surgery in the town was closed due to coronavirus.
Bevendean Primary School issued a letter to parents today: “We have just been made aware that a member of our staff has been in close contact with someone who has been advised by Public Health England to self-isolate as they have been in direct contact with the Coronavirus.
"We are currently in communication with the local authority and Public Health England for further advice and information however we feel that it is our duty to make you aware of what is happening.
"The school will remain open until further notice however if you wish to keep your child off of school at this time, then we will authorise this absence. Please contact the school if you are keeping your child off.
"Whilst nothing has been confirmed, the health and safety of our school community is of paramount importance to us and we have therefore taken this unprecedented step until we have more information.”
The County Oak medical centre in Brighton was closed yesterday due to coronavirus.
Chinese health authorities today confirmed the death toll from coronavirus has passed 1,000 as the UK scrambles to locate infected.
The daily number of deaths from the virus has also topped 100 for the first time as the virus continues to spread, with 1016 in total.
Authorities in the UK are working to locate about a dozen patients of two healthcare workers from a GP surgery in Brighton, who are among eight people in the UK to be diagnosed with coronavirus.
On Monday four new cases of the virus were diagnosed in Britain who are now being treated at specialist infection centres at St Thomas' and the Royal Free hospitals in London.
With the level of threat from the virus rising the Department of Health announced the virus was now "constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health."
The government also announced new measures to deal with coronavirus patients as those with the virus can now be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave, and can be forcibly sent into isolation if they pose a threat to public health.
As the new cases were announced, the County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton closed its doors "because of an urgent operational health and safety reason".
Speaking about the latest cases, World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said they were "concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China".
He warned such spread "could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire", and warned countries to work to contain the virus "to prevent a bigger fire".
In a statement on Monday, Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle said: "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."
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Patients should not be alarmed as it is still more likely that anyone with flu-like symptoms will have the flu.
"However, in light of the members of staff who tested positive for coronavirus in Brighton we'd like to remind the public that it is vital that any patient who thinks they may have symptoms does not try to attend a GP appointment or hospital emergency departments in person.
"They should stay at home and call NHS 111."
Researchers in China have said the virus can have an incubation period of up to 24 days.
Currently, the World Health Organisation estimates the incubation period to be up to 14 days and recommends that the follow-up of contacts of confirmed cases is the same period.
British Airways became the latest airline to extend its suspension of flights serving Beijing and Shanghai.
It said on Monday that it has cancelled flights to and from the cities until March 31, following in the footsteps of Virgin Atlantic which last week said it will not operate its Heathrow-Shanghai route until March 28.
The latest developments come as health authorities confirm one of the hundreds of people recently evacuated from China to US military bases has the virus, with the person joining 13 confirmed cases across the country.
There have been more than 42,600 cases of the virus globally, mostly in China.