Two cases of coronavirus confirmed in the UK, health officials announce

The first two cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK. The NHS has stressed that they are well-prepared and that both people are receiving specialist care.

The patients are from the same family in England, according to reports.

Chief medical officer for England, Chris Whitty stated: "The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.

"We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately."

"We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organisation and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities,” he stressed.

The patients are being treated in Newcastle. The risk to the public has been upgraded from low to moderate after the WHO declared a global emergency.

Over 200 people have died from the virus in China. There are over 10,000 confirmed cases in China and at least 18 countries have reported cases, including the USA, Australia and Germany.

What exactly is the novel coronavirus?

Coronaviruses cause mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illnesses like the common cold and are often harmless. However, this current strain is unknown. Medical experts fear it is a new virus. 

The current outbreak of the virus, known as 2019-nCoV, has never been identified in humans before. The virus is currently being tested to find out what type it is. Scientists are analysing whether it is more similar to the MERS or SARS virus.

Signs and symptoms:

The new virus causes symptoms including pneumonia, confusion, dizziness, muscle ache, fever, cough, headache, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. 

How is it spread?

The Chinese national health commissioner, Mr Li Bin said the disease was “mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract.” 

Coughs and sneezes are the main way this virus is spread, experts stated. The virus can also be spread by close personal contact, touching an object with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, eyes before washing your hands.

Treatment:

There is no current cure/vaccine available. 

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