Patient in his 80s is feared to be Britain's second coronavirus death
Hospital patient in his 80s is feared to be Britain’s second coronavirus death as child at Alder Hey Hospital tests positive for killer infection
- Man with underlying health problems passed away at a Milton Keynes hospital
- Doctors are waiting on official test results to confirm it was a case of killer virus
- Fellow patients and hospital staff on his ward have been isolated this morning
A hospital patient in his 80s with underlying health conditions is feared to have become Britain’s second coronavirus death.
The unnamed man is thought to have succumbed to the illness at Milton Keynes University Hospital last night.
He had tested positive for the killer virus once already but the NHS must carry out further tests to confirm the case and rule out a false positive, MailOnline understands.
Fellow patients and hospital staff on his ward have been isolated this morning and a deep clean has been carried out.
It comes after reports a child at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital tested positive for virus on Thursday.
There are now 90 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Britain, after three more were confirmed in Scotland this morning
A man in his 80s with underlying health conditions is feared to have become Britain’s second coronavirus death. The unnamed patient is thought to have succumbed to the illness at Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire today
Health officials are now tracking down anyone who had been in contact with the patient and will test them for the highly contagious illness.
Today services at MK Hospital are running as normal. The hospital has been contacted for comment.
Anyone confirmed to have the virus who is not seriously unwell or at risk of becoming more dangerously infected can recover at home.
At least 45 people out of the 116 confirmed in the UK have already been instructed to stay in their own houses and wait for their illness to blow over.
Until the new rule was drafted – it is not clear when it began – all confirmed patients had to be taken to a specialist hospital unit in one of five locations around the country, some hundreds of miles from their hometowns.
An extra 29 cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed in the UK today, bringing the total to 116 – 105 in England, six in Scotland, three in Northern Ireland and two in Wales.
Officials said it was ‘perfectly reasonable’ for people to recover at home because COVID-19 is a ‘mild illness’.
Chief medical officer for the government, Professor Chris Whitty, said that most people with minor cases of the virus will no longer be hospitalised.
Instead they will be asked to stay at home, where they pose less of a risk to other people.
If tests show the man did have coronavirus it would make him the second person to be killed by the illness.
The first death, a woman in her 70s who also had long-term health troubles, was recorded on Thursday at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.
Latest figures show there have been 116 cases in the UK out of nearly 18,000 people tested.
The elderly and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are believed to be the most vulnerable from the virus.
The latest death comes just days after the NHS started testing thousands of intensive care patients for COVID-19 amid fears it is already spreading through NHS wards.
In a dramatic ramping up of efforts to detect the virus, hospitals were ordered to test any seriously ill patient with a cough or breathing difficulties.
Medics were told to screen patients even if they had not been abroad or had any contact with anyone from high-risk countries.
It comes after reports a child at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital tested positive for coronavirus.
The youngster was admitted to the hospital yesterday and has was today diagnosed with the virus, a source revealed.
A member of staff, who wants to remain anonymous, said he had been sent home from work yesterday afternoon after the child tested positive for the disease.
At least one other child, thought to be a secondary school pupil in Devon, has caught the illness. The boy tested positive last week along with their mother after a holiday in Italy.
A member of staff at Alder Hey said: ‘We have just been sent home from Alder Hey because one of the children has got coronavirus’
A commuter on the London Underground wears a gas mask on Friday morning as the capital was gripped by coronavirus fears after the UK’s first death
An LBC radio producer photographed a passenger on the London Underground ‘protecting’ themselves from coronavirus by hiding underneath a quilt
Many people have taken to wearing face masks on public transport. One many was pictured wearing his headphones over the mask (left) while another was pictured on the tube this morning wearing the full face covering (right)
A member of staff at Alder Hey had told the Liverpool Echo: ‘We have just been sent home from Alder Hey because one of the children has got coronavirus.
‘We have not been in contact with the child and we are getting paid.’
A spokesperson at the hospital told the BBC they did not believe the child was the first in the UK to be diagnosed with the virus.
The staff member confirmed that three workers in total had been sent home as a result. In a statement this afternoon, Liverpool City Council revealed that two residents in the city have tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.
It comes after it was revealed half of Britain’s coronavirus patients are being treated at home amid mounting fears the NHS does not have enough beds to cope with the outbreak.
Forty-five people with mild forms of the killer virus – nearly half of the 99 Britons currently suffering from the illness – are caring for themselves in their bedrooms and being supported by daily calls with health officials.
Dried pasta has flown off the shelves and was in short supply at this Asda store in Southampton today, Friday
Shelves which normally stock hand gels and soaps are seen stripped bare at Asda in Chandler’s Ford, Southampton – companies producing the sanitisers say they are ramping up production because of ‘exceptional demand’
Customers queue outside Boots in Salisbury, Wiltshire, this morning, amid reports that supermarkets and shops across the UK are running out of hand sanitiser
Although there have been a total of 116 cases in the country so far, 17 have recovered. Those who have been sent home have been told to lock themselves away from their own family and scrub down shared surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens.
The NHS’s move towards ‘home monitoring’ of those with the disease wherever possible is another acknowledgement that officials are bracing themselves for a surge in cases.
Just hours before the policy shift last night, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty admitted half of coronavirus cases in the UK are likely to occur over just three weeks and the NHS does not have enough beds to cope with them.
But the new guidance now puts Britain at odds with European Centre for Disease Control guidelines which state patients must be separated from the public and isolated in hospital in the first stages of an epidemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured at a laboratory in Bedford today. He has announced a £46million funding boost to develop coronavirus testing kits
It seemed there was a back log of customers outside the Costco in Croydon as they were given hand sanitiser on entrance
WHAT MAKES PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO DIE OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
Men are 65 per cent more likely than women to die from coronavirus, according to statistics.
Figures from the World Health Organization and Chinese scientists have revealed that 1.7 per cent of women who catch the virus will die compared to 2.8 per cent of men, even though neither sex is more likely to catch it.
More than 100,000 people around the world have now been diagnosed with the virus and at least 3,383 have died.
Some experts have put the higher risk among men down to higher smoking and drinking rates – both habits weaken the immune system.
Figures from the World Health Organization and Chinese scientists has revealed that 1.7 per cent of woman who catch the virus will die compared to 2.8 per cent of men (pictured, a graphic showing those most likely at risk from the virus)
The elderly and infirm have also been found to more at risk of coronavirus, with 10.5 per cent of heart disease patients expected to die if they catch the deadly virus.
Death rates among people with diabetes are expected to be around 7.3 per cent, while six per cent of patients who have high blood pressure might die if infected.
Some 5.6 per cent of cancer sufferers infected with the coronavirus would be expected to die along with 6.3 per cent of people with long-term lung diseases.
In the US, at least 233 people have now been confirmed to have the coronavirus, and 12 have died from it, while in the UK there has been one death among 116 cases.
Those aged 80 years or older are most at risk, with 14.8 per cent of people catching the disease in that age bracket expected to die.
Between 60 and 69 years old the death rate is around 3.6 per cent, while it is more like 1.3 per cent for those aged 50 to 59.
For people in their 40s this drops to 0.4 per cent, and it’s just 0.2 per cent for those in their 30s.
Children do not seem to catch the virus very often, according to data from China, and there are no high-profile reports of children dying.
The government – whose chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance today admitted the world is unlikely to get a vaccine in time for the outbreak – is also ‘looking at’ possibly isolating entire households as part of its four-stage ‘battle plan’ if the crisis continues to escalate and cases become more widespread.
Speaking on BBC Question Time last night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told coronavirus patients caring for themselves at home to shut themselves away in their room and avoid their loved ones.
He said: ‘People should try to self-isolate from their families, not only go home, try not to go out shopping, definitely don’t use public transport, but within your own home you should also try to self-isolate.’
Mr Hancock added that, as the father of three children, he understood that ‘can be difficult and some people have caring responsibilities’, but people should try to keep to themselves as much as possible.
As coronavirus fears take hold in the UK now that 116 people her have been diagnosed and the virus is known to be spreading inside the UK, anxious Britons have resorted to wearing gas masks and blankets on public transport in desperate attempts to protect themselves.
Meanwhile, supermarkets up and down the country have again been left bare amid rushes to stockpile household goods such as hand soap, nappies and dried foods like pasta and rice.
Despite the panic surrounding the virus the government has urged people not to bulk buy products, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock vowing that supermarkets would not run out of food and Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming that it was ‘business as usual’ after the first confirmed death of a UK patient with the virus.
But customers don’t seem to be taking much notice of the reassurances and bosses at online supermarket Ocado told customers they would have to place orders early due to a ‘higher than usual demand’.
Mr Hancock claimed the Government was ‘working with the supermarkets’ to make sure that people who are told to self-isolate – who must stay at home for at least two weeks – will be able to get regular food deliveries. The Competition & Markets Authority yesterday warned that firms taking advantage of the panic by hiking prices of could be prosecuted or fined.
Customers at a Costco in south London are now being ‘disinfected’ at the front door as coronavirus fears continue to grip Britain after a woman in her 70s last night became the first patient to die in the UK.
Shoppers ‘lined up obediently’ at the Croydon store’s entrance yesterday before being stopped by a staff member to be sprayed with a ‘disinfectant-like liquid’, the person who filmed the incident told MailOnline. Costco today denied the claims, saying only trolley handles were sprayed – not customers.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?
Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
More than 3,300 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and over 98,000 have been infected. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.
By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.
By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths.
A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.
By February 25, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,700 had died. February 25 was the first day in the outbreak when fewer cases were diagnosed within China than in the rest of the world.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.
However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.
Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region.
Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.
She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.
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