Work on to contain coronavirus spread after first West Midlands cases confirmed

Three people are being treated in Birmingham and Staffordshire for coronavirus, it has been confirmed

Catch it, bin it, kill it sign giving advice contain the spread of coronavirus
Catch it, bin it, kill it sign giving advice contain the spread of coronavirus

Health officials say they are working to contain the spread of coronavirus after the first people test positive in the West Midlands.

Public Health England (PHE) confirmed yesterday that a patient in Birmingham has tested positive for COVID-19.

It was also revealed two patients were being treated in Staffordshire for coronavirus.

Last night, an older patient, reported to be a woman in her 70s, became the first person in the UK to die after being diagnosed.

The total number of UK coronavirus cases has now risen to 116 said Department of Health and Social Care has said.

Today the Government said it is working with supermarkets to ensure food supplies as the number of people self-isolating with coronavirus is expected to rise.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to reassure the public following panic-buying in some areas, with supermarkets seeing their shelves cleared of essentials such as toilet roll and paracetamol.

WATCH: Matt Hancock outlines Coronavirus response

Speaking on BBC’s Question Time, Mr Hancock said: “The Government has supplies of the key things that are needed, and, within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won’t be a problem there.

“And, crucially, we are working to makes sure that if people are self isolating, they will be able to get the food and supplies that they need.”

He said there was “absolutely no need” for individual people “to go round buying more than they need.”

He added: “The very, very strong advice from the scientists, from the medics, is that people should not go buying more than they need.”

Mr Hancock also told anyone self-isolating with coronavirus to stay away from their own family members as much as possible, and to wipe down shared surfaces such as in bathrooms.

He said: “People should try to self-isolate from their families, not only go home, try not to go out shopping, definitely don’t use public transport, but within your own home you should also try to self-isolate.”

He said that, as the father of three children, he understood that “can be difficult and some people have caring responsibilities”, but people should try to keep to themselves as much as possible.

The number of coronavirus cases in the UK as of last night

WATCH: More details on the Birmingham case

PHE held a briefing with Birmingham City Council yesterday to outline how the Birmingham patient contracted the condition.

It is understood the infected individual had been in contact with another confirmed case from outside Birmingham within the last week.

The person then went away for a couple of days for work, and returned to Birmingham last weekend.

Public Health England contacted the person on the same day as their return, as officials were aware of contact with the confirmed case.

Officials are contacting people who may have had close contact with the confirmed case.

More coverage:

Further details about the person would not be revealed due to patient confidentiality said PHE.

Public Health England West Midlands, Deputy Director of Health Protection, Katie Spence, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 who is a Birmingham resident.

"We’re working closely with local NHS colleagues as well as Birmingham City Council to manage the situation and help reduce the risk of further cases.

“Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case.

"This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”

'Nothing unexpected'

Birmingham City Council’s Director of Public Health, Justin Varney said officials were already braced for the West Midlands' first case and have been prepared.

“This new case of coronavirus is nothing unexpected," he said.

"We expected that at some point we would have our first case and we have worked with partners in the NHS and PHE and our services have planned for this, and are ready, for this situation.

“I’d like to reassure citizens that the risk to the general public remains low and Birmingham City Council is working with partners to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Birmingham are protected.

As uncertainty over Coronavirus continues Boots sells out of handwash at some of its stores

“Current evidence indicates that most cases appear to be mild, with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

"Older residents or those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions may experience more severe symptoms, which is why it is important to help protect ourselves and each other. This is a good reminder to all of us to check in on neighbours and loved ones and be conscious of each other.

“Following Government guidance to take basic hygiene precautions remains the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus: sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands.

"We should do this regularly throughout the day."

Staffordshire County Council said a second person was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus this afternoon.

It follows an earlier announcement that a patient was already being treated at the Royal Stoke Hospital.

The first West Midlands' coronavirus case has been confirmed

A statement said: "Following the confirmation of two cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Staffordshire, people who may have been exposed are being contacted by health authorities.

"There remains no significant risk to the public."

Earlier on Thursday, the Department of Health said "delay" phase measures were in place to slow the spread of the virus.

MPs were told it was "highly likely" people now being infected in the UK have no connection to overseas cases.

Meanwhile, the competition watchdog has warned retailers and traders they must not try and “take advantage of people” concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus.

Officials at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said they would take strict action and that anyone trying to inflate prices could be prosecuted.

It came as shops and pharmacies reported selling out of stocks of hand sanitisers.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News