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China coronavirus: Incident team to deal with Scottish threat

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An incident team has been set up to deal with the threat of coronavirus in Scotland after it was confirmed five people are being tested for the virus.

The Scottish government said the tests were a precaution and experts would be monitoring the situation daily.

Globally there are more than 800 confirmed cases of the virus which has killed 26 people in China.

BBC Scotland understands that one of the patients is a Chinese student who is being treated in Edinburgh.

He is believed to have first been in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary before being transferred to the Western, where the Regional Infectious Diseases Unit is located.

The man is thought to have become unwell after visiting family in Wuhan, the suspected source of the outbreak.

It is not known where the other patients are being treated.

Downing Street said four of them were believed to be Chinese nationals.

The Scottish government said two of those being tested had already been diagnosed with flu. Three others were being tested on a precautionary basis.

There are currently no confirmed case of coronavirus in the UK and the risk to the Scottish public remains low, a government spokesman added.

All those being tested in Scotland have respiratory symptoms and have been in the Chinese city of Wuhan, thought to be the source of the outbreak, in the last 14 days.

They are among 14 people in the UK who have been tested, according to Public Health England. Five have tested negative and nine are waiting for results.

Samples are being sent in category A transport to a laboratory in London for urgent testing.

The Scottish government said it would provide updates of any confirmed cases of coronavirus, but it would not provide a “running update” on cases being considered on a precautionary basis.

A spokesman added: “We are co-orientating with Health Protection Scotland a daily incident management team to continue to monitor the situation as it develops, including on the number of any potential cases going forward.”

Prof Juergen Haas, Edinburgh University’s head of infection medicine said it was “very likely” that cases would be confirmed in the UK.

“In any European countries there is a danger that these cases occur,” he said. “Here at the University of Edinburgh we have more than 2,000 students from China and they are always coming and going back to China so we are relatively sure we will have cases in the UK from travellers coming back from China.”

He warned that the spread of the virus might increase as more people travelled around for Chinese New Year, within China and to other countries.

Any suspected cases have to be isolated and staff dealing with them must wear protective clothes including gloves, masks and goggles.

Elderly people and those with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk.

SourceBBC NEWS

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