Healthcare news

Patient at RVH 'being tested to rule out coronavirus'

A patient at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast was last night being tested for the coronavirus. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

A patient is being tested to rule out coronavirus at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, it is understood.

The patient arrived at the hospital showing symptoms which may be associated with the condition but it will be some time before test results are returned.

The Belfast Health Trust was unable to make any comment. The Public Health Agency (PHA) also declined to comment.

There is no suggestion at this stage that the patient has coronavirus.

Eight people in Britain are awaiting test results for coronavirus. Five others have already been tested and given the all clear.

In Scotland five people are being tested after presenting with the illness. Two of those being tested had been diagnosed with flu after travelling to Wuhan in China - the origin of the global outbreak.

Downing Street said four out of five suspected cases in Scotland were believed to involve Chinese nationals.

The medical director of Public Health England (PHE) Professor Paul Cosford said it was "highly likely that we will have cases in the UK".

"All our GPs and hospitals across the country have had a letter from the chief medical officer and the medical director at NHS England and us at Public Health England, so that if somebody does present and they are worried, if they do meet our criteria, that they will be put somewhere where they won't infect other people while they're assessed and while we can get them tested."

Asked if face masks could provide protection, Professor Cosford said PHE was not advising people to use face masks at the moment, but is monitoring developments carefully.

If a GP suspects a patient has coronavirus, they should be placed in a room away from other patients and staff with the door closed, the PHE guidance states.

They should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities or be physically examined, it adds.

A letter from the chief medical officer to clinical staff said anyone who is confirmed as having the virus will be transferred to an Airborne High Consequences Infectious Disease centre (HCID).

Meanwhile, the official death toll in China has risen to 26 with more than 830 confirmed cases.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, sneezing and coughing.

 

The virus has spread to the US, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan.

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