Britain urges doctors to step up vigilance after 3rd citizen infected

Passengers at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down on Jan 29. (AP pic)

LONDON: Britain said on Thursday a British national was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus after travelling to an Asian country other than China and told doctors to be vigilant to those showing symptoms from a wider range of countries.

Confirming the third person in Britain had tested positive, British medical authorities said the unidentified person had contracted the virus outside China.

“They acquired it in Asia but not in China,” England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said.

“Because of that, it is probably now prudent to slightly widen the geographical area where doctors in the UK and NHS know they should test people if they come with the right symptoms.”

He did not name the country from where the patient had returned.

The government extended a list of countries from which returning travellers who developed symptoms should self-isolate if they showed any of the coronavirus symptoms.

It said those returning from Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau as well as China should follow the advice.

“These areas have been identified because of the volume of air travel from affected areas, understanding of other travel routes and number of reported cases,” the government said.

The third coronavirus patient in Britain has been transferred to a specialist health service centre. The first two people in Britain to be diagnosed with the virus are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle, northeast England, Britain’s health ministry said last week.

Coronavirus spread among passengers of a quarantined Japanese cruise liner on Thursday and dragged down production at more global businesses, as scientists across the world searched for a vaccine.

The death toll from the virus in mainland China jumped by 73 to 563, with more than 28,000 confirmed infections inside China.