A nationwide campaign has been launched offering the public advice on how to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus after the UK’s first two confirmed cases.
The pair – who fell ill while staying at a hotel in York – are members of the same family, and one of them is a student at the University of York.
They are being treated at a specialist hospital unit in Newcastle and health authorities are urgently trying to trace anyone who has come into contact with them.
So far, 259 people have died – all in China where the virus started – and 11,791 others are infected.
Around two dozen other countries have reported more than 130 cases.
On Sunday, the UK government announced it was beginning a drive to inform people how they can protect themselves from infection and reduce the impact on the NHS.
The advice – in radio and print media as well as on social media – will promote the importance of hygiene practices in a similar way to the Catch it, Bin it, Kill it campaign used for flu and norovirus.
The public will be urged to always carry and use a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and to then bin the tissue and prevent the spread of viruses by washings hands with soap and water or use sanitiser gel.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the government is “doing everything we can to protect the public” – but added that “we can all play our part”.
He continued: “Our highly trained and experienced clinicians are working round the clock to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the UK.
“The Government has detailed plans for how to deal with an outbreak like this. Lots of people are asking what they can do to help stop the spread of the virus.
“Basic hygiene such as washing our hands regularly and using tissues when we cough and sneeze can play an important role in minimising the spread of viruses like this.
“While two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the UK, our world-class NHS is well prepared to manage these types of incidents.
“The UK is extremely well prepared for any potential outbreak of an infectious disease – we are one of the first countries in the world to develop a test for the new virus.
Coronavirus presents with flu-like symptoms including a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing, but in a statement, the government said the current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.
Anyone who has travelled from anywhere else in China to the UK (not including Macao or Hong Kong) in the last 14 days, and develops symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, is being told to immediately self-isolate, even if symptoms are minor, and call NHS 111.
Those in Northern Ireland should call their GP.
For further information on coronavirus, visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
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