An update on the new Coronavirus, Covid-19

The University of Edinburgh has issued guidelines to students and staff concerning the global outbreak of the new coronavirus, Covid-19.

University authorities have shared travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which states that “all travel to Hubei Province, including Wuhan city,” and “all but essential travel to the rest of Mainland China” should be avoided.

Students from, and recent visitors to, Hubei Province have been instructed to avoid contact with others in public spaces, even if they have not noticed any symptoms, and to inform the NHS if they have been there since the start of the outbreak.

The latest figures on student numbers provided by the university show that 9 per cent of the University of Edinburgh’s student body are from China, with over 3,000 undergraduates and postgraduates currently studying here.

It is not just visitors to China affected: recent travellers from other parts of East Asia affected by the outbreak, including Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, have been advised to self-quarantine and contact the NHS.

Public health authorities in Scotland have set up laboratories at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Glasgow Royal Infirmary to allow testing for suspected Covid-19 cases to take place rapidly.

The Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh has reported that nine cases of the illness have been found so far in the UK, while 1750 tests have come back negative.

A man from Herriot-Watt University is currently under isolation and being tested for the disease according to local news reports, but thus far Scotland has not seen any positive tests for Covid-19.

In spite of this, public health experts have warned that it is probably a matter of time before a case appears in Scotland, though readers should bear in mind that the majority of cases are mild and that the UK’s chief medical officer has stated that the risk to individuals in Britain is ‘low’.

1017 deaths have resulted from the virus outbreak in China according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) with 42,708 cases recorded of which 7,333 have been rated as ‘severe.’

The WHO’s assessment has described the risk presented by the disease as ‘very high’ for China and ‘high’ at a both a regional and global level.

In spite of this assessment deaths outside of China have remained low, with only three people from outside the country having died due to the disease.

Surgical masks have sold out at several pharmacists in Edinburgh, with Boots reporting that their supplies had been exhausted towards the end of last month.

Official NHS advice on the best way to reduce risks associated with coronavirus is to wash hands thoroughly and avoid touching mucus membranes until having done so.

Image: Fred Murphy via Wikipedia