Number of UK cases of coronavirus jumps to 87 after 36 new cases
Another 36 people have tested positive for coronavirus in 24 hours, bringing the total number of UK cases to 87. England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty confirmed it was the biggest day-on-day increase since the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus hit the UK.
Professor Whitty said 29 new patients had recently travelled from countries where coronavirus has spread, but it’s not yet clear where a further three cases contracted the virus.
The updated toll was released after both Scotland and Northern Ireland recorded another two cases each this morning, and Professor Whitty warned a UK epidemic is now ‘likely’.
The total number of confirmed cases in England is now at 80, with confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland bringing the UK total to 87.
The Department for Health and Social Care said that due to the number of new cases, they will no longer be releasing information on the location of each new case. Instead, this information will be released online once a week. Professor Whitty said the NHS would cope with a major spread of cases but could come under ‘very high pressure’ in a large epidemic.
He said there could be a need to do ‘extreme things’ to protect the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, adding: ‘For the great majority of people this will be a mild or moderate disease, anything from a sniffle to having to go to bed for a few days rather like with mild flu.
‘And there are some people who will get it with no symptoms at all, but for a minority of people – and this is particular in people who are older people or people with pre-existing health conditions – the risk is higher.
‘The NHS will always cope because the NHS is an emergency service which is very good at adapting to what it finds itself with.’ But he said if the UK sees a very large epidemic, ‘then it will put very high pressure on the NHS’ and there could be ‘several weeks which could be very difficult’ for the health service and wider society.
Prof Whitty said he believes there is now onward transmission between people in the UK – which could lead to spiralling numbers – although only two cases of this nature have been identified so far. He said the NHS would look to retired doctors for help, as well as ‘getting doctors doing one kind of a job doing another kind of the job’.