The independent London newspaper

Wuhan coronavirus patients will be sent to Royal Free, health chiefs confirm

Hampstead hospital has one of two centres on red alert if deadly strain reaches UK from China

24 January, 2020 — By Tom Foot

PATIENTS with deadly coronavirus will be sent to the Royal Free Hospital, health chiefs confirmed today (Friday).

The Hampstead NHS Trust is one of two London hospitals with High Consequence Infectious Diseases (HCID) experts specially trained in treating patients with diseases like Ebola, Monkey Pox, Avian Flu and the new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.

Large cities in China have been put on lockdown in recent days and restrictions on movement are in place following the outbreak.

Public Health England said in statement: “If a person is diagnosed with the virus they will be transferred to a national specialist treatment centre. HCID treatment centres have the facilities and specialist staff to implement robust infection control measures.” When asked where the HCIDs were, a spokeswoman told the New Journal “It’s just Guy’s and the Royal Free in London”.

The Royal Free was praised for saving the life of Ebola nurse Pauline Cafferkey in 2015. Unlike Ebola, PHE lists Wuhan novel coronavirus as an “airborne” disease saying it is “spread by respiratory droplets or aerosol transmission, in addition to contact routes of transmission”.

It can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

There have not been any confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus so far detected in this country. The threat level to the UK has been raised from “very low” to “low”.

The Royal Free said it would not comment as PHE was in charge of coronavirus communications.

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