BREAKING: A Third Coronavirus Patient Has Been Diagnosed In The UK
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A third patient has tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, the Department of Health has announced.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty confirmed the news in a statement on Thursday, saying: "A further patient has tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to three.
"The individual did not acquire this in the UK. The patient is being transferred to a specialist NHS centre, and we are using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus."
"The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had."
The patient's name and location has not been revealed, although unconfirmed reports suggest he or she was diagnosed in Brighton.
The first cases of coronavirus in the UK - both members of the same family - were declared last week as the global death toll continues to rise, with some 563 fatalities confirmed so far and around 28,000 people infected.
One is a Chinese student at York University while the other, his mother, is being treated at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Speaking about the patients last week, Mr Whitty said: "The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.
"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."
Meanwhile, a leaked letter seen by The Independent revealed how NHS hospitals in England have been ordered to create specialist areas for coronavirus testing to "avoid a surge in emergency departments".
The news comes after the World Health Organisation declared the situation a global health emergency.
"The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China, but because of what is happening in other countries," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week.
"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it."
The virus has spread to humans from animals (believed to be bats and snakes) sold at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, according to new studies.
It has spread from Wuhan to a number of countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Germany, France, the US and now England.
Coronaviruses are a family of airborne viruses and spread in the same way the common cold is passed from person to person.
This particular strain of coronavirus is known to attack the respiratory system, causing pneumonia-like lung lesions.
It is incredibly contagious and can be passed on via cough and sneeze droplets in the air as well as on surfaces.
Symptoms include a runny nose, fever, headache, cough or other respiratory problems, shortness of breath, aches and body chills. It is possible to be 'a carrier' of the virus - meaning you are infected, but have no symptoms.
Dozens of British people have been evacuated from Wuhan and are expected to remain in quarantine in the hospital for 14 days where they will be closely monitored for signs and symptoms of the virus.