Coronavirus UK: Cases rise to 1,543 as 171 more patients test positive

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The UK’s latest coronavirus case update came as Boris Johnson chaired an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss deaths, a potential ban on mass gatherings, schools and Covid-19 advice for people with symptoms.

Another 171 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, taking the country’s total to 1,543.

Thirty-six people have died after contracting Covid-19, including 68-year-old man who was being treated at a hospital in Wrexham, North Wales, and a man in his 50s at Salisbury District Hospital in Wiltshire.

The infection total is current as of 9am on Monday, up from 1,372 at the same time on Sunday.

Labour MP Kate Osborne, six care home residents at Highgate Care Home in North Lanarkshire, a staff member at Fortismere School in Muswell Hill, north London, have also tested positive.

It came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired an emergency Cobra meeting at No10 and prepared to deliver a televised address to the nation as the UK moves towards banning mass gatherings and asking the elderly to stay at home more.

Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, said the Government would make further announcements about the measures it is taking to tackle Covid-19.

Officials said 44,105 people have been tested in the UK, of which 42,562 were confirmed negative and 1,543 were confirmed as positive, as of 9am.

Wales announced its first death and 30 new cases – taking its total to 124 – as infections in Scotland increased by 18 to 171 as more schools closed.

The 68-year-old patient who died in Wales was being treated at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and had underlying health problems.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I am deeply saddened that a person in Wales who had coronavirus has died. My heartfelt condolences are with their family and friends.

“We continue to work hard to respond to this fast-changing situation, as the impact of the virus continues to increase in the days and weeks ahead.”

Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales offer our sincere condolences to family and friends affected by this loss.

“We can confirm that this is the first death in Wales from novel coronavirus (Covid-19) infection.

“The individual, who was in their sixties and had underlying health conditions, sadly passed away at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

“No further details regarding this individual will be released, and we ask those reporting on the situation to respect patient confidentiality.”

In Wiltshire, Salisbury District Hospital said a man in his fifties with underlying health conditions, who died on March 11, has tested positive for Covid-19.

“Sadly we can confirm a man who had been cared for at Salisbury Hospital and died here on 11th March has tested positive for Covid-19,” the hospital said.

“The patient in his fifties had underlying health conditions. His family have been informed about the cause of death.

“Our thoughts are with the family.”

Cities and town were quieter as the outbreak worsened and millions were expected to work from home on another day of panic buying at supermarkets.

Britons who have a high temperature or a new continuous cough have been urged to self-isolate at home for seven days.

People who have mild symptoms will not be tested.

Children who develop a continuous cough or fever at school should be sent home with suspected coronavirus, new guidance states.

Updated information from the Government says all educational settings should remain open unless directly advised to close by Public Health England.

The Government has so far refused to close schools – a drastic measure taken by a number of European countries, including Ireland, Spain and France, and parts of the US and Canada.

It comes as there was confusion over exactly what elderly people will be asked to do going forward, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday they will be asked to stay at home for a very long time.

On Monday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said people over the age of 70 will be asked to self-isolate “as and when the moment is right” – but that they would still be able to go outside and “walk the dog”.

He said: “We will ask people to do that as and when the moment is right.”

He said it is “quite likely” that elderly people would have to self-isolate for months, but added: “It is the case that people will be able to go out and walk the dog. It’s about being sensible, but not mixing in crowds.”

But Scotland’s national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, said elderly people across the UK will not be asked to stay at home.

Downing Street said it does not expect eight million people to be hospitalised because of coronavirus.

Asked about the leaked Public Health England briefing, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “I think what the documents reflect is the reasonable worst case scenario which we have set out very clearly in the plan we published a week ago now.

“It does not mean that is what we expect to happen… a reasonable worst case scenario is what we are planning for and that is what any responsible government would do. But that does mean that’s what we expect to happen.”

The UK will never know the true number of how many people have been infected with coronavirus.

Future projections of the course of the pandemic in the UK will rely on modelling to provide an estimate, with only a small sample of people actually being tested.

Campaign group Doctors for the NHS said much wider testing should be carried out.

Its chairman, retired eye consultant Dr Colin Hutchinson, said: “There is no mass testing for Covid-19.

“How can you manage an emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic without access to clear, up-to-date information on the number of new cases within the population?

“If you are going to rely on counting the numbers dying, you will only have an indirect indication of the number of infections two to three weeks earlier.

“South Korea has shown how it is possible to turn the situation around and one of their key weapons in this fight has been extensive testing of suspected cases.

“We have just been told that in Scotland there will be some extension of testing soon, to better monitor the situation… (but) in England, NHS 111 does not want even to hear from you unless you are seriously ill or have been in contact with somebody from the infection hotspots.

“It is surely inconceivable that they would have any problem handling the large number of tests that would be required. Or would they?”

Meanwhile, the captain of the Braemar cruise ship which currently has 667 Britons on board is to set sail for Cuba, where all guests will be “repatriated back to the UK by air”.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said Captain Jozo Glavic picked up the anchor at 9am local time to begin the passage to Cuba.

The company said it was working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to confirm details about onward travel arrangements.

There are currently 22 guests and 21 crew who are in isolation after displaying influenza-like symptoms.

By Chris Kitching
Mirror

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