Have two children caught coronavirus from a taxi?

Have two children caught coronavirus from a taxi? Hampshire primary school pupils self-isolate for 14 days after travelling in same car used by infected patient – as Carlisle NHS worker gets killer illness in Italy

  • Both students at a Winchester school have been told to self-isolate for 14 days
  • School sources claim the pupils did not share the taxi with the infected patient
  • 53 patients in the UK have been infected – Scotland confirmed two more today
  • A healthcare worker in her thirties in Cumbria caught the virus in north Italy
  • Do you have a coronavirus story? Email [email protected] 

Fears have today been raised that two primary school pupils in Hampshire may have caught the coronavirus while in a taxi.

Both students have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days because they travelled in a car that an infected patient had been in.

Sources at the school claim the pupils did not share the taxi with the infected patient and health officials say their risk is ‘very low’. 

Fifty-three cases of the killer illness have now been recorded in the UK, as Scotland confirmed two more patients had been struck down this morning.

It can be revealed an NHS worker in her 30s in Cumbria has been struck down. She caught the virus in Italy and her partner is also thought to be infected.

Elsewhere, a primary school in Essex has closed for a deep clean after a family of a pupil travelled to one of the quarantined areas of Italy. 

Last night it was revealed the family at the heart of the UK’s outbreak are a husband and wife whose son attends a £5,000-a-term school in Surrey.

More than 93,000 patients have been struck down by the deadly coronavirus across the world. The death toll today surpassed 3,200.  

Both students at Oliver’s Battery Primary School in Winchester (pictured) have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days because they travelled in a car that an infected patient had been in

It comes after a woman who works at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary (pictured) tested positive for the coronavirus. The woman, thought to be in her 30s and live in Carlisle, caught the virus on holiday in Germany

Last night it was revealed the family at the heart of the UK’s outbreak are a husband and wife whose son attends a £5,000-a-term school in Surrey

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday lives may have to be put on hold for up to three months to fight the deadly coronavirus.

Setting out a ‘battle plan’ for tackling a potential epidemic, he warned the nation of the scale of the challenge posed by an illness that may afflict millions.

The sobering strategy said Britons could be asked to suspend their social lives – ‘avoiding contact outside work and school’ – if the virus took hold.

Sources said dramatically cutting back on activities such as eating out, going to the pub, shopping and shows could significantly slow the spread of the contagion.

England’s chief medical officer today warned the coronavirus will kill Britons, as he said an epidemic of COVID-19 is ‘highly likely’.  

The two pupils in Hampshire who have been told to self-isolate attended Oliver’s Battery Primary School in Winchester.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Carly Redfern announced neither pupil had any direct contact with the infected patient.

It is unclear if the children were travelling in the car with anyone else. Health chiefs have not confirmed if anyone else has been told to self-isolate.

Sources today told MailOnline the primary school was not told to send either pupil home because their risk was so low. 

But the school told them to self-isolate ‘as a precautionary measure’ for the next 14 days, the Hampshire Chronicle reports.       

Elsewhere, the Bonnygate Primary School (pictured) in Essex has closed for a deep clean after a family of a pupil travelled to one of the quarantined areas of Italy

The prep school, St Edmund’s in Hindhead, Surrey, (pictured) confirmed that the parents of one of their pupils had the virus

Other parents at the unnamed infected couple’s son’s prep school, St Edmund’s in Hindhead, Surrey, have gone into self isolation after having contact with the pair

More than 93,000 patients have been struck down by the deadly coronavirus across the world. The death toll today surpassed 3,200

LIVES MAY HAVE TO GO ON HOLD FOR THREE MONTHS TO FIGHT THE VIRUS, PM SAYS 

Lives may have to be put on hold for up to three months to fight the deadly coronavirus, Boris Johnson said yesterday.

Setting out a ‘battle plan’ for tackling a potential epidemic, he warned the nation of the scale of the challenge posed by an illness that may afflict millions.

The sobering strategy said Britons could be asked to suspend their social lives – ‘avoiding contact outside work and school’ – if the virus took hold.

Sources said dramatically cutting back on activities such as eating out, going to the pub, shopping and shows could significantly slow the spread of the contagion.

Other contingency measures were set out to allow key public services, such as the NHS and the police, to continue functioning.

The plan said officers could be told to suspend investigations and focus on serious crime, the Army could be put on standby and foreign visitors showing symptoms could be required to have a coronavirus test before being allowed into the country.

Mrs Redfern stated that the risk of coronavirus was ‘very low risk to the rest of the school community’. The school has around 230 pupils.

The Department of Health and Social Care yesterday revealed at least one case of the coronavirus had been diagnosed in Hampshire. 

Officials refused to reveal how many patients had been struck down in the county but did say they had not caught the virus in the UK. 

It comes after a woman who works at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the News & Star.

The woman, thought to be in her 30s and live in Carlisle, caught the virus on holiday. 

She had not been to work since her family trip abroad to northern Italy and Munich, Germany – instead she self-isolated as soon as she returned in the UK because of her flu-like symptoms. 

Her father was allegedly told he did not need to be tested – even though he went on the family holiday.    

The newspaper, who decided not to name the woman, claim the woman’s partner also tested positive for coronavirus.

No cases in Cumbria have yet to be confirmed by the Department of Health, which is expected to make an update at 2pm today.   

The North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary, said the staff member had not been in contact with any patients.

A spokesman said: ‘The trust can confirm that a member of hospital staff has tested presumptive positive for Covid-19 following a trip to northern Italy.

‘On returning from the trip the member of staff sensibly self-isolated and did not come into work or have any contact with patients.

‘We can assure the public that the risk remains low. The trust is operating normally and there is no need to cancel any appointments.’

Bonnygate Primary School in Ockendon, Essex, today announced it would be closed for a deep clean because a family had gone to a ‘category one area’ in Italy and were showing symptoms.

Essex Live reports the school was advised to take preventative measures by carrying out a deep clean. 

Category one areas include 11 towns locked down in the north of Italy, as well as the whole of Iran, two cities in South Korea and Hubei province in China.

Travellers who have returned from any of these areas are told to self-isolate even if they have no symptoms of the deadly illness. 

In an email to parents, the school said: ‘We have been made aware this morning of a suspected case within a family that attends this school.

‘Members of the family have recently travelled to a category one area are now showing symptoms associated with the virus.’ 

MailOnline last night revealed the family at the heart of the epicentre of coronavirus in the UK are a husband and wife in whose son attends a £5,000 a term prep school in Surrey.

The couple have been confirmed as having COVID-19, and have led to other parents being placed in self isolation after they came into contact with them.

The couple, who have not been named, were at the epicentre of the first outbreak of the virus in the affluent market town of Haslemere over the weekend

Haslemere (pictured today) is a quintessentially English commuter town – so much so it was chosen as the setting for a BBC documentary titled ‘Contagion!’ looking at how a flu outbreak might spread across Britain 

BREATH TEST COULD INSTANTLY SPOT PATIENTS WITH THE CORONAVIRUS 

A breath test that instantly spots patients with coronavirus has been developed by British scientists.

They say the technology could be used to rapidly screen people in airports.

And it could also be used in GP surgeries, pharmacies or ambulances, giving an instant result.

The technology, developed by a team at Northumbria University in Newcastle, needs further testing but experts believe it could be quickly change the way the virus is spotted around the world.

Currently coronavirus is tested using a cheek swab which is sent off for analysis at a Public Health England lab, a process that takes between 24 and 48 hours.

The Northumbria team’s test spots biological information – known as biomarkers – in the breath.

These biomarkers, which include DNA, RNA, proteins and fat molecules, can spot diseases of the lung and other parts of the body. 

People simply breath into the device, which is similar to a breathalyser used by the police.

Although diagnosis from breath sampling has been used before, previous methods have not been reliable enough due to contamination, loss of the sample and issues of variablity in breath analysis.

But the device developed in Newcastle has solved these problems so data collected closely matches results from lung samples taken surgically.

Researchers hope the technology could eventually be used to diagnose lung diseases, diabetes, cancers, liver problems and brain problems. 

Some airports around the world – notably in the US and Singapore – have started using temperature scanners to pick out people with fevers, in a bid to spot afflicted patients.

But experts say this does is ineffective because many virus carriers do not have a raised temperature. 

In UK airports people coming from certain countries – such as China, South Korea and Japan – are asked if they have health complaints.

But again, this does not pick up all carriers because many people may pass through without even knowing they have the virus. 

Their son has also been placed in self isolation – but has not yet tested positive for the fast spreading virus.

It is not known how the husband and wife contracted the virus and health officials in the Surrey area have been tracing anyone they came into contact with.

Their son’s prep school, St Edmund’s in Hindhead, Surrey, confirmed that the parents of one of their pupils had the virus.

Headmaster Adam Walker said in a statement that other parents who had come into contact with the pair were now self isolating and waiting to see if they test positive.

He said the couple’s son is ‘well and self isolating’ as a precautionary measure and no other pupil or teacher had the virus.

The school remains open on the advice of Public Health England, but was undergoing deep cleaning.

Mr Walker said: ‘Whilst there is uncertainty about the coronavirus, the evidence is that it appears to pose a very low risk to children. 

‘We have a super team in our School Surgery and our excellent teaching and pastoral staff have been working hard to ensure that it is business as usual at school for the children.’

The couple, who have not been named, were at the epicentre of the first outbreak of the virus in the affluent market town of Haslemere over the weekend.

The town’s health centre and a pub were shut after fears a so called ‘super spreader’ had visited both.

Stocks of hand sanitizer quickly sold out at the two pharmacists in the high street while many locals were angry that they were not told who was carrying the virus.

Trade at local shops plunged by more than half after the town became the focus of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

The town of Hindhead is three miles from Haslemere where a local pub The Prince of Wales has been closed since the weekend after being visited by an infected patient.

The Haslemere Health Centre also closed, but re-opened after a deep clean.

St Edmunds has 470 pupils aged from two to 16. Former pupils include TV presenter Jonathan Dimbleby and the current King of Jordan.

Poet W.H.Auden and film director John Schlesinger are also ‘old boys’ at the school which was established in 1874.

One of the parents whose child is at the school is Professor Trudie Lang, who is a current advisor to the chief medical officer and the UK Government. 

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?

Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

More than 3,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and almost 90,000 have been infected. Here’s what we know so far:

What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.

By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. 

A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths.

By February 25, around 80,000 people had been infected and some 2,700 had died. February 25 was the first day in the outbreak when fewer cases were diagnosed within China than in the rest of the world. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.

Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.

However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region. 

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.

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