Bedfordshire hospitals prepared for China virus threat

If a Coronavirus case is confirmed in Bedfordshire, the patient will be transferred to a specialist centre for airborne infectious diseases, a local authority has said.

During a health and wellbeing board meeting, Central Beds Council officers had earlier stated that hospitals in Bedfordshire would resort to using isolated side rooms if cases of Coronavirus appeared.

Beds hospitals are expected to use isolated side rooms if Coronavirus hits the area

Beds hospitals are expected to use isolated side rooms if Coronavirus hits the area

This policy has since been altered in line with advice from the UK's chief medical officer.

The first two cases of the disease in the UK were confirmed last Friday (January 31) in the north east of England.

Unlike the Ebola virus, specialist facilities are not essential for treating coronavirus, according to Central Bedfordshire Council’s assistant director public health Celia Shohet.

Speaking after a health and wellbeing board meeting, she said: “We’re following national advice.

“We are checking it every day. There is no more action required at the moment.

“I know that people are contacting their GPs if they’ve got flu-like symptoms. I know they are concerned.

“If you look at the national advice the risk remains really low.

“If you have flu-like symptoms just follow usual precautions about using tissues, avoiding spreading any virus.

“So there’s nothing extra that residents need to do over and above the standard measures that you take.”

She explained if anyone has come back from Wuhan recently “they are to self-quarantine for 14 days”, adding: “That’s government advice at the moment.

“They’ve done 130 tests and none of them are positive at the moment, so there’s no indication that there is any infection in the UK from coronavirus.

“There’s plenty of circulating flu. If anyone needed medical help, if they were having respiratory symptoms, the majority of hospitals would have side rooms, somewhere that they could practice infection control.

“It’s not like Ebola where you need really specialist facilities, such as those at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Most hospitals will have side rooms.

“But it’s so far down the line at the moment. It really is. So we look at it every day.”

Public Health England (PHE) advice is that the risk to the public remains low.

If and when a first case is confirmed it will be announced as soon as possible.

Anyone returning from China during the last 14 days is advised to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, as they would with any other virus.

Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock told CBC’s social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee: “We are keeping updated via PHE regarding the coronavirus, which is being monitored.

“There are quite a few people who have been tested, but there are no confirmed cases in the UK at present.

“London Heathrow Airport is being monitored every week,” said councillor Stock, who’s the executive member for health and wellbeing, and communities.