Coronavirus cases have exceeded 45,000 worldwide today, as the world teeters on the brink of the next potential pandemic. While few of the 45,182 confirmed infections have developed outside of China, the Government has detected eight in the UK after thousands of tests.
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Coronavirus cases have caused global alarm since they left China last month, with more than 33,000 in the country’s Hubei province alone.
The vast majority of COVID-19 cases remain confined within China’s borders, but some have spilled out across other continents and countries.
The UK is among countries which have received the most infections, with a total of eight recorded so far.
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Cases of the virus doubled on Tuesday when health officials confirmed another four people were infected.
On Monday, the Department of Health declared COVID-19 a “serious and imminent threat” to public health.
However, the overall risk of contracting the virus in the UK remains “moderate”.
The newest cases were all linked to one British man who travelled from Singapore – where officials suspect he caught the virus – to a French ski resort.
He was diagnosed in Brighton and brought to St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
Officials have transferred the associated new cases to specialist NHS centres at Guys’ and St Thomas’ and the Royal Free hospitals in London.
The UK’s Chief Medical Officer has assured the NHS is “extremely” well prepared to tackle the disease.
Professor Christ Whitty said officials are “working quickly” to identify any other potential cases.
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He said: “Experts at Public Health England continue to work hard tracing patient contacts from the UK cases.
“They successfully identified these individuals and ensured the appropriate support was provided.
“The patients have been transferred to specialist NHS centres at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and The Royal Free hospitals, and we are now using robust infection control measures to prevent further spread of the virus.
“The NHS is extremely well prepared to manage these cases and treat them, and we are working quickly to identify any further contacts these patients have had.”
Health officials have tested a total of 1,358 people for coronavirus in the UK since the outbreak began, with 1,350 negative readings.
The Government has advised people returning from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last two weeks to self-quarantine and call 111 if they are experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath.
They have also advised those returning from Hubei province or Wuhan in the last 14 days to quarantine whether they experience symptoms or not.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised UK nationals to leave China if possible, due to mounting pressure on the Chinese health system and potential travel problems.