Doctors in the UK have been told to lock patients in a room and leave straight away if they suspect they have the deadly Chinese coronavirus.
The extraordinary guidance was issued by Public Health England amid fears the contagious illness has already made its way into Britain.
Five Chinese patients with coronavirus-like symptoms are being treated in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but none are confirmed to be the vicious disease.
The PHE guidance, which was issued to GP practice doctors this week, reads: “If [the Wuhan coronavirus] is considered possible when a consultation is already in progress, withdraw from the room, close the door and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.”
“Avoid physical examination of a suspected case. The patient should remain in the room with the door closed. Belongings and waste should remain in the room.”
“Advise others not to enter the room. If a clinical history still needs to be obtained or completed, do this by telephone.”
“The patient should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities.”
“Instruct them to not touch anything or anyone when walking to the toilet. Instruct the patient to wash their hands thoroughly after toileting.”
Health bosses around the globe are on high alert because the virus is far more contagious than previously thought and can spread via a simple cough or sneeze.
It has been ravaging its way through Asia over the last week, infecting more than 600 people and killing 18 in 10 different countries.
But experts predict the true number of cases could be in the thousands and it may kill as many as two in 100.
Health authorities and university experts say it is likely cases will appear in Europe and the UK.
No cases have been confirmed in the UK yet, but the Government last night screened patients arriving at Heathrow from the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak, Wuhan.
At least 15 medical workers in Wuhan have become infected while treating patients with the virus.
If the patient is critically ill, they should be put into an ambulance, PHE said.
But otherwise, a hospital should be phoned ahead and warned and the patient must be told to get there without using public transport or a taxi.
It’s believed that the source of the virus were the live animals traded in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, the largest of its kind in the city of Wuhan.
The Chinese authorities have urged its people not to travel in and out of Wuhan for the upcoming Lunar New Year, and strengthened the health screening in transport hubs across the nation.
And the government of Wuhan has ordered all residents to wear face masks in public places.
A third city in China went into lockdown today while officials battle to curb the epidemic.
Major Chinese New Year events in Beijing have been cancelled, authorities in Ezhou have shut down train stations, and Huanggang has announced it will suspend public buses and trains as well, following the example of Wuhan, the locked-down city at the centre of the outbreak.
Three more countries have today announced they have recorded cases of the infection – Singapore, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.
In Singapore, a 66-year-old man who had flown from Wuhan with his family on Monday is recovering in hospital. A 37-year-old companion is also in hospital under observation but has not been diagnosed.
In Vietnam, a Chinese father a son are in hospital in Ho Chi Minh City after flying there from Wuhan and becoming ill. They are in ‘good condition’, according to Vietnamese authorities.
And India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, confirmed on Twitter that an Indian nurse working in Saudi Arabia has been diagnosed with the infection and is ‘recovering well’ in hospital.
This means the illness has now spread to 10 countries, including the US, and European health officials fear the never-before-seen virus will reach the continent where the UK and other nations are already on high alert.
It was revealed today that an American man infected with the deadly virus – which Chinese officials have warned will mutate and become deadlier – came into close contact with at least 16 people before he was put in isolation.
The World Health Organization is facing increasing pressure to declare the crisis a public health emergency, like it has done for Ebola and Zika in the past. Health chiefs will meet again later today to make a final verdict.
Source: Daily Mail