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05 Mar 2020 | 09:07 PM UTC

UK: First coronavirus-related fatality confirmed March 5 /update 6

Health officials confirm the first coronavirus-related death in the UK on March 5; at least 116 confirmed cases nationwide

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Event

Health officials in the UK confirmed the first coronavirus (COVID-19)-related fatality in the country on Thursday, March 5. The individual was admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading on Wednesday, March 4, and had underlying health conditions. As of Thursday evening (local time), the National Health Service (NHS) has confirmed 116 COVID-19 cases across the country.

Self-quarantine measures are in place as of Thursday for travelers returning from multiple countries. Individuals who have returned from Iran, Hubei province (China), lockdown areas in northern Italy, and Daegu and Cheongdo (South Korea) within the past 14 days are being asked to self-quarantine, even if they are not showing symptoms. Travelers who are showing symptoms who have returned to the UK from mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea within the past 14 days should also stay indoors and avoid contact with other people. Individuals showing symptoms of COVID-19 are being asked to avoid going to a general practitioner or hospital and to use the NHS 111 online service here.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.