UK government can ‘forcibly quarantine’ coronavirus patients

10 February 2020, 07:24

The death toll in China has risen as the UK declares the virus a threat
The death toll in China has risen as the UK declares the virus a threat. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Britain's Department of Health has declared coronavirus a "serious and imminent threat to public health" as the death toll rises in China.

On Monday the Department of Health 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.

The coronavirus death toll in mainland China has passed 1,000 people, health authorities announced early on Tuesday morning.

The daily number of deaths from the virus has also topped 100 for the first time as the virus continues to spread.

Japan's health minister confirmed 60 more people, including one British national, on a quarantined cruise ship have tested positive for the virus with a total of 130 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess, quarantined in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, with officials previously saying 70 people had the virus among the 3,711 passengers and crew.

More than 3,600 people are still in a 14-day quarantine on board the ship.

British Airways has announced it has cancelled all its flights to Beijing and Shanghai until April due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

NHS staff prepare to greet travellers from Wuhan
NHS staff prepare to greet travellers from Wuhan. Picture: PA

A Department of Health statement said: "The Secretary of State has made regulations to ensure that the public are protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus.

"In accordance with Regulation 3, the Secretary of State declares that the incidence or transmission of 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.

"In accordance with Regulation 2, the Secretary of State designates Arrowe Park Hospital and Kents Hill Park as an 'isolation' facility and Wuhan and Hubei province as an 'infected area'."

One British man who caught coronavirus in Singapore appears to be linked to at least seven other confirmed cases in England, France and Spain.

There are now four confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, with this man having been the third to test positive.

The man is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton and was transferred to St Thomas' Hospital in London, where there is an infectious diseases unit, on Thursday afternoon.

Brackley Medical Centre in Northamptonshire has also closed as a precautionary measure due to "a potential coronavirus incident".

Two of the new coronavirus cases announced on Monday involve healthcare workers, Public Health England said.

Meanwhile, five British nationals who have tested positive in France were diagnosed after they came into contact with a British national who had recently returned from Singapore, the French health ministry said.

The four adults and a nine-year-old child, who are not in a serious condition, were staying in the Alpine resort area of Contamines-Montjoie near Mont Blanc.

An easyJet spokeswoman said: "EasyJet has been notified by the public health authority that a customer who had recently travelled on one of its flights has since been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

"Public Health England is contacting all passengers who were seated in the vicinity of the customer on flight EZS8481 from Geneva to London Gatwick on 28 January to provide guidance in line with procedures.

"As the customer was not experiencing any symptoms, the risk to others on board the flight is very low.

"We remain in contact with the public health authorities and are following their guidance.

"The health and well-being of our passengers and crew is the airline's highest priority.

"All of the crew who operated have been advised to monitor themselves for a 14-day period since the flight in line with Public Health England advice. Note this happened 12 days ago and none are displaying any symptoms."

Meanwhile, another plane carrying people evacuated from the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan landed at RAF Brize Norton on Sunday morning.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the repatriation flight had brought back 105 British nationals and family members, as well as 95 European nationals and family members.

The passengers were taken to the Kents Hill Park hotel and conference centre in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

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