Coronavirus: University of York student confirmed as one of UK patients

Risk of infection being passed on campus is ‘low’, says Public Health England

Chiara Giordano
Saturday 01 February 2020 12:41 GMT
Coronavirus: WHO declares international health emergency over 'unprecedented outbreak'

A University of York student is one of the two people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the UK, a university spokesperson has said.

Public Health England (PHE) has advised university officials that the risk of the infection being passed on to other people on campus is low, the spokesperson added.

The country’s first two confirmed patients of the virus – who are members of the same family – are being treated at a specialist unit in Newcastle.

They had checked in to the Staycity apartment-hotel in York and were taken to hospital on Wednesday evening.

Health chiefs confirmed on Friday that they had tested positive for the virus, which has killed 304 people in China and infected nearly 15,000.

The university said the student had not been on campus or in student accommodation after being exposed to the virus.

A spokesperson said: “We understand this development will cause concern and anxiety among our students, staff, and the wider community.

“PHE has advised us that the risk of infection being passed to others on campus is low.

“Current information from PHE suggests that the student did not come into contact with anybody on campus whilst they had symptoms, but investigations are ongoing to fully establish this.

“Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the health and continued wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors.”

The hotel firm has said the apartment involved has been thoroughly disinfected and PHE is providing support.

The two patients are being treated at the specialist Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease Centre based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Professor Sharon Peacock, a director at PHE, said the organisation is contacting people who had close contact – defined as being within two metres of the infected person for 15 minutes – with the pair.

A specialist outbreak investigation team is working to identify anyone who may be at risk from infection, in an attempt to prevent the virus spreading further within the UK population.

Those at risk will be told to self-isolate indoors for two weeks and avoid going to work or visiting public places and using public transport.

Anyone who becomes ill will be asked to call the NHS 111 helpline and could then be tested for the virus and if they test positive, officials will begin the process again to trace any contacts.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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