New cases have been reported in the UK over the weekend, and parts of Italy have been placed into lockdown after a spike in reported cases. Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at Exeter University, said: “It is clear that all the important ingredients for a pandemic are now present. It’s better to be honest and say it.”
The fresh instances of coronavirus in the UK all derived from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The ship had been quarantined for a number of weeks off the coast of Yokohama, Japan and was later evacuated. Passengers touched down in the UK at Boscombe Down military base, Wiltshire, on Saturday. However, the next day, it emerged that although patients were tested in Japan, their positive results for coronavirus did not arrive until they were back in the UK.
Four people who boarded the plane were confirmed to have the deadly disease.
NHS England have said the people are now in hospitals across the UK – two in Sheffield, one in Liverpool and a fourth in Newcastle.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England said: “Four further patients in England have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to thirteen.
“The virus was passed on in the Diamond Princess cruise ship and the patients are being transferred from Arrowe Park to specialist NHS infection centres.”
Meanwhile, in Italy, eleven towns across Lombardy and Veneto have been put into lockdown.
These areas are often popular with British holidaymakers, some of whom have spent the half-term holiday in these regions.
The rise in cases in Italy combined with a sharp spike in infections in Iran and South Korea has led experts to believe it is simply too late to be able to contain the virus.
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Six people have died in South Korea so far, with President Moon Jae-in placing the country on the highest level of alert.
600 people have been reported to have been struck down by the virus, which exhibits itself in flu-like symptoms.
Iran has reported eight deaths from a total of 43 cases.
Professor Devi Sridhar, the director of Edinburgh University’s global health governance programme, said: “The window of opportunity to contain the outbreak is closing very quickly.”
And, Dr Nathalie MacDermott, an infectious diseases expert at King’s College London told The Telegraph: “The evolving situation in South Korea, Iran and Italy is very concerning.
“There has been the expectation that some countries might develop person to person transmission of SARS-COV2 following an imported case of infection from an affected country.
“What is concerning is the lack of clear contact with such an individual in initiating clusters in these three countries, and particularly in Iran and Italy.
“This suggests that there has potentially been transmission from an asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic individual who had not been tested for SARS-COV2.
“If such a situation is true, then the chance of significant transmission from asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic individuals occurring within these populations for a period of time before the first cases were identified increases.”
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