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Two MPs self-isolate after attending same conference as coronavirus patient

Sky News logo Sky News 2 days ago Greg Heffer, political reporter

a group of people in front of a building: The conference was held at London's QEII Centre © Getty The conference was held at London's QEII Centre One of the people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK attended a conference near parliament last week along with about 250 other delegates - including two Labour MPs.

The patient, who has not been named, attended the UK Bus Summit at Westminster's QEII Centre in central London on 6 February.

The event was described as the "premier bus event covering all parts of the UK".

Speakers and attendees included "key decision makers in government from around the UK" as well as bus and coach industry representatives.

Among the speakers listed were buses minister, Baroness Vere; junior transport minister, Nusrat Ghani - who lost her job in this week's government reshuffle; and various managing directors of bus firms.

Labour MP Alex Sobel revealed he was among the attendees of the summit and is now self-isolating himself after hearing about the presence of a coronavirus patient through media reports.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Labour MP Alex Sobel is self-isolating after attending the summit © N/A Labour MP Alex Sobel is self-isolating after attending the summit "Whilst I have been informed that I am at very low risk, I have called 111 to be formally assessed," he posted on Twitter.

"As a precaution, we have cancelled all engagements until next Thursday when the 14-day potential incubation period will end."

Describing what self-isolating involved, Mr Sobel later told Sky News from his Leeds constituency: "I'm not in contact with anyone new.

"I'm in the end meeting room of the office away from everybody else... and I'll be going home and I'll be isolating myself in my home office.

"I won't be intending to leave the house until next Wednesday."

He said he would keep himself busy with work-related reading and writing, as well as watching Netflix.

American researchers have produced up-close images of the 2019 coronavirus. Pic: NIAID-RML © Other American researchers have produced up-close images of the 2019 coronavirus. Pic: NIAID-RML Fellow Labour MP Lilian Greenwood also attended the conference.

She tweeted: "I'm feeling completely well but to be extra-cautious I'm cancelling my public engagements until 20th February. Sorry for any inconvenience."

The summit was organised by Transport Times, which emailed attendees on Thursday to inform them that a person suffering from COVID-19 - the disease which is caused by the coronavirus - had been at the event.

Labour MP Lilian Greenwood (L) © Getty Labour MP Lilian Greenwood (L)

The Financial Times reported Transport Times sent the email on the instruction of Public Health England (PHE).

It also included a letter from PHE which told conference attendees to take no action if they were well but to stay indoors, avoid contact with others and call NHS 111 if they developed symptoms such as a fever or cough.

"While the degree of contact you may have had with the case at the summit is unlikely to have been significant, we are taking a precautionary approach and informing you," the letter said, as reported by the newspaper.

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Dr Yimmy Chow, consultant in health protection at PHE, said: "One of our main priorities has been to identify any people who we think have been in close contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to provide public health advice, as they may be at slightly increased risk of catching the virus.

"While the degree of contact conference delegates may have had with the case is unlikely to have been significant, we have taken a precautionary approach and informed them of the situation."

It is said the case is not linked to the ninth patient with coronavirus in the UK - a woman from China who took an Uber to A&E after she developed symptoms.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said on Thursday many more people in the UK may need to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus.

A Channel 4 employee is among those being tested in the UK for coronavirus after feeling unwell following a trip to Asia within the last month.

In pictures: Coronavirus outbreak (Photos)

"As a precautionary measure they decided to seek medical advice and, in line with the latest public health advice regarding the coronavirus, they were taken to hospital for a precautionary test," a Channel 4 spokesperson said.

"We have informed our staff of this and continue to follow all the latest public health guidance."

There is now a total of 64,456 suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide.

Of these cases, 63,862 are in mainland China. There have been 1,384 deaths from COVID-19.

The figures have been collated by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

More than 1,700 Chinese medical workers have been infected by the virus.

Six of the workers have died, said Zeng Yixin, vice director of China's National Health Commission.

Vietnam is monitoring more than 5,000 Chinese workers - who returned to the country after the Lunar New Year holiday - for signs of coronavirus, state media reported.

The southeast Asian country, which neighbours China, declared a public health emergency over the epidemic at the beginning of the month and has banned all flights to and from China.

Sixteen people in Vietnam have tested positive for the virus.

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