UK conducts coronavirus testing as part of early warning plan

NHS also wants to introduce home testing for the virus - Heath Sec

Britain has started random tests for coronavirus on flu patients to have an early warning system in place in case the outbreak becomes more widespread, a senior health official said.

"We're heightening our vigilance because of the apparent spread of the virus in countries outside mainland China," Public Health England's medical director, Paul Cosford, told BBC radio.

In Britain, random tests for the virus will be carried out at 11 hospitals and 100 general medical offices on people who have flu symptoms including a cough, plus shortness of breath and a fever.

UK health secretary’s statement on coronavirus

The details of a statement made in the House of Commons by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, on coronavirus.

Hancock says there have been 13 cases of the virus in the UK. Eight of those people have been discharged, he says.

But the government expects more cases to arise, he says.

He says the government has a four-point strategy for dealing with this: contain, delay, research and mitigate.

He says the government will be rolling out a publicity campaign soon.

Advice for travellers coming back to the UK from northern Italy and some other countries was published on Tuesday.

He says the government is coordinating with its international partners to ensure it it ready for all eventualities.

Responding to Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, Hancock thanks Ashworth, and other MPs, for taking a responsible and proportionate approach.

There are plans in place in case of the virus becoming a pandemic, he says. But he says the government is still working on the basis of plans to contain the virus.

He says people should only travel to the quarantined areas in Italy if their travel is essential.

He says it is important that the government is not advising the blanket closure of schools.

Testing sites are available at all A&E facilities in England, he says. But he says the NHS also wants to introduce home testing for the virus. 
That will allow the government to roll out testing for a much wider group of people, he says.

(With Aljazeera and The Guardian)

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