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Coronavirus evacuees freed from quarantine as officials warn ‘many more’ in UK may need to self-isolate

The Independent logo The Independent 3 days ago Peter Stubley
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Eighty-three people were freed from their coronavirus quarantine on Thursday as officials warned that “many more” may have to self-isolate at home to stop the spread of the illness.

The British evacuees from the city of Wuhan in China spent 14 days at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral in Merseyside before finally being allowed to leave.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised them for “the highly responsible, pragmatic and stoical way they have played their part in keeping both themselves and others safe.”

“They have set an important example, recognising that over the coming weeks many more of us may need to self-isolate at home for a period to reduce this virus’s spread,” he added.

a person holding a sign © Provided by The Independent The group were clearly happy about their release, with one of those who had been held, Matt Raw, shouting: “We’re free!” as he walked out.

However, the official response to the outbreak was criticised as it emerged the ninth person to test positive for coronavirus had taken an Uber taxi to A&E.

The breach of published guidance resulted in two members of medical staff being placed under “active surveillance” at home for 14 days as a precaution. The Uber driver was also temporarily blocked from taking any more passengers.

Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said that no other patients came into contact with the woman, a Chinese national who contracted the virus in China.

A nurse in Brighton, who said she was sent home in a taxi after coming into contact with a patient being tested for coronavirus, has also claimed self-isolation “is not being dealt with effectively”.

“I thought there would be a plan in place for something like this, but in my case, I know there wasn’t one,” she told The Argus newspaper, explaining that she had to tell everyone at her home to move out. She has since had to rely on grocery and takeaway deliveries.

A woman wearing a face mask seen in a supermarket. © Getty A woman wearing a face mask seen in a supermarket. Attempts to prevent the spread of the virus also led to two GP surgeries, in Islington, north London, and Farnham, Surrey, being shut down for a day to “deep clean”.

“Any patients that have the symptoms should call 111 and not come to the practice,” a pop-up notice on the London practice read.

The Church of England has also issued guidance to parishioners on how to avoid spreading the virus, including the washing of hands, using sanitisers and refraining from dipping the bread in the wine at the Eucharist.

However, the church said use of the common cup for communion could continue unless the virus was declared a pandemic.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said the current UK strategy was focused on containment of individual cases and delaying the spread of the virus.

Gallery: Coronavirus outbreak (Photo Services)

“If we are going to get an outbreak in the UK, putting it back in time into the summer period, away from winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better... is a big advantage,” he added.

Meanwhile, rapper Stormzy postponed the Asia leg of his tour due to coronavirus and dental surgeries in the UK warned they were facing a desperate shortage of face masks due to Chinese supply problems.

In China, the number of deaths from coronavirus has jumped to more than 1,483 on Thursday, with more than 65,000 recorded infections. Chinese officials also said a spike in cases on Wednesday – the largest so far in a single day – was the result of a change in the way cases were reported rather than a sudden increase in the transmission of the virus.

There have been more than 560 cases confirmed outside China, with 219 of those on board the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan. Three are British citizens, including honeymooner Alan Steele.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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