Public Health England has confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in the UK.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said:
“We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for Coronavirus.
“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.”
Professor Whitty also confirmed that the first two UK patients are in a high consequence infectious disease unit in Newcastle and that an outbreak investigation team has been formed to trace anyone who has been in contact with the pair to prevent the illness spreading.
It is likely that the patients are being treated at a specialist unit located in Newcastles Royal Victoria Infirmary.
A spokesperson from the Department of Health & Social Care added:
“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 Organization, and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities”.
The announcement comes only hours after the World Health Organisation declared that the outbreak is being treated as a global health emergency.
So far, 213 people in China have been killed by the mystery virus that is thought to have originated from an animal market in Wuhan, China.
Nearly 10,000 cases have now been reported in the country as authorities around the world try to prevent a global pandemic of the deadly virus.
Around a quarter of people infected during the outbreak of the virus have developed severe respiratory infections and about 3 per cent have died, according to the New Scientist magazine.
A global race is now on to try and find a vaccine for the virus as more and more cases are reported in countries around the world.
But it is estimated that it could take around six months to develop the vaccine as it will need to go through rigorous medical trials before it is released.
The announcement today comes after the four Chief Medical Advisors in the UK yesterday evening increased the risk level of coronavirus in the country from ‘low’ to ‘moderate.’
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