UK races to tackle coronavirus spread

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak spiked dramatically on Sunday, with more countries reporting additional cases. The deadly virus has added 13 more confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, with Scotland reporting its first case. Health...

UK races to tackle coronavirus spread

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak spiked dramatically on Sunday, with more countries reporting additional cases. The deadly virus has added 13 more confirmed cases in the United Kingdom, with Scotland reporting its first case. Health officials are racing to identify people who are unaware they may have been exposed.

The total confirmed cases in the UK has topped 36, with 13 new cases added to the toll. Health officials are working with experts to determine the source of the outbreaks reported in Sussex, Surrey, and Essex.

They are trying hard to trace carriers of the virus, which are not aware they are infected, predisposing others to the Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). SARS-CoV-2 is the culprit pathogen behind the coronavirus disease outbreak, which originated in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China.

The COVID-19 outbreak has already infected 89,072 people worldwide, the majority of whom are in mainland China. There are now over  3,000 deaths related to the new disease, with Iran reporting the highest number of deaths outside mainland China with 54 deaths as of March 2.

 

Numbers tripled in four days

The UK government and health officials are alarmed by the fast spread of the virus in just a couple of days. The total number of confirmed cases in the UK has tripled in just four days, with the virus now reaching all corners of the British Isles.

Doctors report that five of the latest infected people contracted the coronavirus within the United Kingdom, and not via overseas travel.

 

What the government is doing

The UK government plans to contain the coronavirus by creating an emergency plan. They have not ruled out drastic measures to contain the virus, including locking down affected areas and cities, closing schools, prohibiting concerts and large gatherings, and recalling retired doctors to add to the health care workforce.

Further, Matt Hancock, UK's health secretary, said that the government is planning in case the worst-case scenario happens. They plan to shut down cities and areas that are affected, postponing events that will draw large crowds, dissuading people from using public transport, closing schools, and urging work-from-home schemes for employees.

The government also plans to release the contingency plan by the NHS to help people prepare in case the outbreak worsens. The plan will have four phases – containment, delay, mitigation, and research. Containment measures will be carried to care for infected people while tracing their close contacts to prevent further spread. The delay phase involves deciding on what actions to take to curb or stem the spread of the deadly virus, while mitigation includes measures to limit the damage if the virus spreads widely. Lastly, research will involve constant and ongoing work to develop therapeutics and vaccines against the virus, as well as study the virus's nature and behavior.

Currently, the country is in the containment phase, racing to track all people who have been in contact with confirmed cases. They may still be unaware that they are infected and can spread the virus to others.

 

Scotland reports first case

Scotland has reported its first coronavirus case, with the patient having a history of travel to Italy. The patient, who is from the Tayside area, tested positive and is in isolation at a hospital.

Meanwhile, five new countries have also reported their first coronavirus cases, including Qatar, Monaco, Ireland, Azerbaijan, and Ecuador.

"The continued increase in the number of cases, and the number of affected countries over the last few days, are clearly of concern," Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said.

"Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously, and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of the impact of COVID-19 to very high at a global level," he added.