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Third UK patient confirmed to have coronavirus
6 February 2020, 20:15
A third case of coronavirus has been identified in the United Kingdom.
The Department of Health announced today that the person had been confirmed to have the deadly virus, which originated in Wuhan in China.
It is understood the patient is British and contracted the virus whilst in Singapore.
They were diagnosed in Brighton and taken for treatment in London, the Guardian reported.
A statement from the health department did not provide specific details about the case but said the person did not contract the virus in either the UK or mainland China.
"The patient is being transferred to a specialist NHS centre, and we are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus," it said.
"The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had."
It comes as the department's chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty said that doctors would begin testing people who had recent travelled to a wider pool of countries outside of China.
Anyone who has relevant symptoms and has recently travelled to the countries - expected to be confirmed later on Thursday - has been advised to self-isolate and call the NHS number 111 for advice.
"Whilst its absolutely the case that by far the biggest risk remains in China .... nevertheless there is now evidence of some limited transmission in a number of Asian countries and our view is rather than wait until after it becomes clear this has become established, we are going to move ahead of the establishment," Mr Whitty said.
He added: "If a doctor in the NHS sees a patient who has travelled from Asia, now they will start thinking about testing from a wider geographical area than would have been the case before, so we are shifting geography for NHS doctors to test."
Several hospitals in England have specialist units equipped for dealing with the virus.
In London, the Royal Free, Guy's and St Thomas' are equipped, while in Newcastle, the Royal Victoria Infirmary is where the first two confirmed UK cases are being treated.
Confirmation of the third British case came just hours after China bumped its numbers of those infected from 3,694 to more than 28,000.
The death toll also jumped to 563 people.
Also on Thursday, the Chinese ambassador to the UK defended China's response to the outbreak and said he was "fully confident" it would beat the virus.
He also pointed toward the mortality rate which he said was "much lower" than outbreaks of Ebola, Sars, and Mers.
"China is open, transparent and responsible," he said.
So far, 94 British nationals have been flown home from China and are being held in quarantine at a hospital in the Wirral.
A final repatriation flight has been chartered to arrive at RAF Brize Norton on Sunday.
According to reports, 165 Britons and their dependants remain in Hubei province - the epicentre of the outbreak - while 108 people have requested assistance to leave.
A further 78 people with British passports are among thousands of people being held aboard a cruise ship off the coast of Japan after a number of people tested positive aboard the vessel.
One British passenger, David Abel, described the conditions aboard the cruise as a "floating prison" after passengers were confined to their cabins and given food.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the outbreak has not yet reached the level of a pandemic, but has appealed for £520 million in donations to help stop the virus from spreading.
It is understood the British government is considering how much to contribute, while the Irish Government pledged £425,000.