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Coronavirus news – live: UK hospitals instructed to create secure pods for patients as emergency Cobra meeting called

Newborn infant diagnosed just 30 hours after birth

Jon Sharman,Andy Gregory
Wednesday 05 February 2020 16:47
Timelapse video shows China's emergency coronavirus hospital built within 10 days

Coronavirus could be capable of passing from a mother to her baby inside the womb, doctors fear, after a newborn tested positive for the disease just 30 hours after birth.

It came as cruise ship passengers were quarantined in Japan after 10 people aboard were found to be infected with coronavirus. Some 3,700 passengers and crew are now locked down on the Diamond Princess, including a number of Britons.

Hundreds of people are being held aboard another cruise ship in Hong Kong, where medical staff are demanding leader Carrie Lam completely close the border with China.

In the UK, The Independent can exclusively reveal that NHS hospitals have been ordered to create secure coronavirus testing areas to keep pressure off A&E departments.

While the professor leading the NHS’s coronavirus response claimed the measures were “appropriate” to ensure daily services were not affected, Dr Bharat Pankhania at the University of Exeter said the pods “could raise the risk of infection” as a result of “all sorts of issues about ventilation and air clearance”.

In the letter obtained by this paper, NHS 2019-nCoV lead, Professor Keith Willet, said the pods would need to be decontaminated in line with Public Health England guidance after every patient.

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Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of coronavirus.

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:33

Brits on Japan ship

Britons aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship which is quarantined in Japan say they have been told not to leave their cabins for any reason.

David Abel, 74, told Sky News: "We are very lucky not to be in one of the inside cabins. Here, we have a balcony, we can have the door open, we've got the warmth of the sunshine and we've got fresh air."

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:36

New UK diagnosis

A Belgian woman who was on board a flight returning UK citizens from the coronavirus-stricken city of Wuhan has tested positive for the deadly virus, Public Health England has confirmed, writes Vincent Wood.

Belgium’s health agency said the woman was one of nine of its citizens to board the British flight back to Europe, which carried passengers from 30 other countries.

Some 11 UK citizens and family members on the flight were then flown on to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:37

Come home, says Hancock

Matt Hancock has urged thousands of UK citizens in China to buy commercial flights back to Britain amid the coronavirus outbreak. "We want to take no chances," he told the BBC's Breakfast programme.

Asked if all those people would be quarantined, the health secretary said he advised anyone returning to self-isolate if they have symptoms and call NHS 111.

He said that "we keep ... under consideration" the fact that flights from mainland China, excluding Wuhan, are still arriving in the UK. He added: "The current likelihood of getting a case of coronavirus in Wuhan itself is much, much higher than in the rest of China."

Mr Hancock added: "Because of that difference in risk we think it's appropriate that if you're brought back by the government, because there are no flights out of Wuhan, then you need to go into quarantine, but we recommend that people come back from the rest of China and that they don't go to China unless it's absolutely essential - and then they should self-isolate [if they have symptoms]."

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:45

Wash your hands, says health secretary

"The most important thing to do" if you want to take every precaution in trying to prevent the spread of disease, the health secretary said, "is to wash your hands and if you have a cough and a sneeze, use a tissue".

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:48

Call 111

Scientists believe the likelihood of people carrying the virus but not showing symptoms being able to pass on the infection is low, Mr Hancock told the BBC.

"The tests don't really work on people who don't have symptoms," he added. "The key is that as soon as people do have symptoms, however mild, then that is the moment to call 111 and to go home, and stay home, until you've spoken to a clinician."

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:51

Cash boost

The UK's contribution to the search for a coronavirus vaccine has risen to £40m, Mr Hancock said.

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:52


The British man who fell ill on the second evacuation flight from China has tested negative for coronavirus, Matt Hancock says - but he's staying in quarantine for the full two weeks because the tests don't work until symptoms show up.

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 07:54

New evacuation flight

Ministers are preparing to charter a final evacuation flight from Wuhan to the UK.

The plane is expected to leave in the early hours of Sunday morning local time and will land at RAF Brize Norton, the Foreign Office said.

British citizens in Hubei province should contact diplomatic staff to register for the flight.

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 08:00

Impact on Tokyo 2020

The chief organiser of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has warned that the coronavirus outbreak may throw "cold water over the growing momentum" of the games.

"I am seriously concerned. I hope this will be resolved as soon as possible," Toshiro Muto said at a meeting in Tokyo with the organisers of the Paralympic Games.

Jon Sharman5 February 2020 08:06

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