Previously all those infected with the virus have been admitted to one of five specialist hospitals designated to deal with the crisis. These hospitals are located around the country, some many hundreds of miles from patients’ homes. However,in a significant change of policy, the Government has decided allow those with mild symptoms to stay at home and to self-medicate.
The patients will receive daily medical advice from health officials over the phone.
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, told reporters: “We have moved to a situation where if people have very minimal symptoms – so we think they are clinically safe and they are able to self isolate – we think it is actually safer for them as well as actually more pleasant if they can self isolate in their own homes, with support.
“Anybody who needs hospitalisation will be hospitalised in a specialist centre as needed.”
To date 116 people have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in Britain, of which 45 are self-isolating in their homes.
Coronavirus outbreak, Italy
Matt Hancock and Chris Whitty
105 of the reported cases are in England, six in Scotland, three in Northern Ireland and two in Wales.
Symptoms of the virus include a fever, coughing and breathing problems.]
The majority of people make full recoveries, while a small number may go on to develop pneumonia.
Current data based on a study of cases in China suggest that the coronavirus has a mortality rate of around three percent, making it more lethal than ordinary flu.
Coronavirus outbreak UK
Professor Whitty added: “In the long run, to be clear, if we were to get a significant epidemic our advice would definitely be stay at home.
“It would not make any sense for people with mild symptoms to come into the NHS. That would not benefit them and not benefit anyone else.”
The Chief Medical Officer conceded that it was now “very likely” that the UK would see a full blown epidemic, as evidence grows of community transmission of the virus.
During testimony at a session of the Health Select Committee in Parliament on Thursday, he confirmed that the Government had moved on to the “delay” phase of its coronavirus strategy.
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Boris Johnson and Chris Whitty
He told the committee’s panel: “We have moved from a situation where we are mainly in contain, with some delay built in, to we are now mainly delay.”
The plan is to push the epidemic back to the summer, thereby giving the NHS some breathing space, following the demands placed on it by the winter flu.
This comes as health officials confirmed the first death in the UK from COVID-19.
The patient is believed to be a woman in her 70s, who was receiving treatment at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.
The patient had underlying health conditions and had only been diagnosed last night, the hospital said.
In a statement, the NHS trust which runs the hospital said: “Sadly, we can confirm that an older patient with underlying health conditions has died.
Coronavirus outbreak, Italy
“The patient has previously been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons, but on this occasion was admitted and last night tested positive for coronavirus.
“The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”
Globally there have been 98,422 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 3,385 deaths, according to data provided by the website worldometers.com
Published at Fri, 06 Mar 2020 03:53:00 +0000