As Practice Nurse went to press, a ninth person was being treated in hospital for coronavirus, and 83 people being held in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral have been confirmed clear of the virus and allowed to return home.
But Public Health England (PHE) is warning that more UK cases of coronavirus, now named COVID-19, are ‘highly likely’.
The RCGP is publishing regular updates on COVID-19. RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘We're closely monitoring updates from relevant authorities, such as Public Health England (PHE) and equivalent organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘In light of the World Health Organization declaring a global emergency, the current threat to the UK is now considered moderate, and while nine cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK (at the time of writing), NHS England and PHE are assuring patients that there are robust arrangements in place to manage the situation.
‘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 department in person. They should stay at home and call NHS 111, advising the call handler if they have recently travelled back from one of the following places: China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and/or Macau.
‘Should a patient arrive at a GP surgery with potential symptoms and who has recently travelled to an affected area, they should be placed in isolation, where possible. Current PHE guidelines should then be followed.
‘The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently advising against all travel to Hubei province in China, and all but essential travel to mainland China. It is also recommending that anybody who has returned from Wuhan, China in the last 14 days stays indoors and avoids contact with other people where possible – and that they advise health authorities of their situation by calling NHS 111.’
The two practices in Brighton that were closed for deep cleaning after two GPs had been exposed to the virus while on a skiing holiday have now re-opened, although are not offering a full service. A message on the Warmdene and Carden surgery websites states: ‘We would like to sincerely thank all patients, carers, colleagues and friends for their patience, understanding and kind words, while we have been dealing with some health and safety concerns at the medical centre.
‘Please be absolutely assured that the facilities have been extensively and rigorously cleaned throughout, in accordance with PHE advice.
‘Both Warmdene and Carden surgeries would like to thank all staff for their help and support to bring about a swift re-opening of the practices under difficult circumstances.’
Read more about the virus and the background to the current outbreak in: The coronavirus outbreak: the central role of primary care in emergency preparedness and response. https://bjgpopen.org/content/early/2020/01/28/bjgpopen20X101041
You can read the latest PHE guidance for primary care at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wn-cov-guidance-for-primary-care/wn-cov-interim-guidance-for-primary-care