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Millions of people could be told to self-isolate in UK - report

Sky News logo Sky News 2020-02-16
a woman talking on a cell phone: The number of COVID-19  cases worldwide has passed 69,000 © Getty The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has passed 69,000

Millions of people could be told to self-isolate for two weeks if they have flu-like symptoms, according a report.

The Sunday Telegraph said the measure could be taken if the number of coronavirus cases in the UK passes 100.

The newspaper said senior NHS managers have been told that the service will stop testing for the strain known as COVID-19 "once around 100 cases have been confirmed".

Those with coughs and colds may then have to stay home to limit the chance of them spreading the virus.

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Britain's Pandemic Influenza Response Plan sets out how to ensure isolation and treatment for the first few 100 cases so that information can be gathered about the virus.

But it says the approach should be changed as soon as there is "evidence of sustained community transmission of the virus", according to the report.

The Department of Health and Social Care did not comment when asked about the self-isolation direction.

As of Saturday, 2,992 people in the UK have been tested with 2,983 confirmed as negative and nine positive, the department said.

a sign in the middle of a park: All the Britons quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital have now left © PA All the Britons quarantined at Arrowe Park Hospital have now left

NHS England and NHS Improvement said all 94 people who were being held in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on Merseyside have also now left the hospital.

They were kept at the facility for two weeks after returning to the UK on a flight from China - the centre of the outbreak.

More than 100 people remain at the Kents Hill Park Hotel, in Milton Keynes.

a house covered in snow: A number of British nationals caught the virus at a chalet in the ski resort of Contamines-Montjoie © Other A number of British nationals caught the virus at a chalet in the ski resort of Contamines-Montjoie

Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director, said: "The last guests have left Arrowe Park hospital and I would once again like to thank them for the calm, patient and responsible way that they have responded to what must have been a trying situation.

"Over the coming weeks many more of us may need to spend time at home to reduce the spread of the virus and they have set a great example."

It comes after the first death from the virus was confirmed in France, where a Chinese tourist died in hospital in Paris.

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The 80-year-old man was one of 12 cases in France, which include six British nationals who caught the virus from "superspreader" Steve Walsh.

Businessman Mr Walsh contracted the virus in Singapore while at a business conference before going to the French Alps for a ski holiday, then returning to his home in Hove, East Sussex.

He unwittingly infected 12 Britons who were in France with him. As well as the six who are in France, one is in Majorca and five are now in the UK.

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In a statement, the group of five who were treated at the Royal Free Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital in London, said: "All of our group, including the six (later confirmed to be seven) in other countries, have recovered quickly from the virus having required minimal medical treatment during our time in isolation."

Meanwhile health officials have contacted more than 200 people who attended a bus conference in the UK after it emerged one delegate was suffering from coronavirus.

The case is not believed to be linked to the UK's ninth case of coronavirus who took an Uber to A&E after she developed symptoms.

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Two staff from Lewisham Hospital in south London are now in isolation at home after coming into contact with the woman.

The total number of confirmed cases globally now stands at more than 69,000.

  • A total of 1,669 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus - most in mainland China but one each in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan and France
  • 69,186 cases have been confirmed since the virus started in mid-December in Wuhan, with 66,497 in mainland China, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organisation
  • There were 5,090 suspected new cases recorded in mainland China, Chinese authorities said on Friday

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