Coronavirus has recently taken hold in Europe after cases sparked in Italy, with 322 confirmed cases so far. Cases from the northern regions of the country have spilled over into neighbouring regions and forced the lockdown of a hotel in Tenerife, where several British holidaymakers are currently staying.
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Coronavirus cases could continue to eat into Europe this week, with an increased risk to the UK.
However, the threat level for Britain remains “moderate” – despite London’s Canary Wharf going into lockdown today.
British officials have focussed on providing advice to people currently holidaying in Italy and those who will soon visit the country.
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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued immediate advice for British citizens in the wake of the Italian outbreak.
They currently advise against “all but essential” travel to 10 small towns in the region of Lombardy.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We advise against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, which are currently in isolation due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.
“Any British nationals already in these towns should follow the advice of the local authorities.”
Affected towns include:
– Castiglione d’Adda
– Fombio, Maleo
– Terranova dei Passerini
– San Fiorano
The government also advises against travel to one town in Veneto, Vo’ Euganeo.
Italian authorities have taken “extraordinary” measures to contain the virus, and have placed most of the advised against towns under quarantine.
Nevertheless, 12 people have died since the outbreak took hold, and border countries surrounding Italy remain on alert.
Britons returning from Italy to the north of Pisa have been told to “self-isolate” as fears the virus could spread take hold.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there were no plans to halt flights from Italy.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised people to take the following precautions to protect against the new virus:
– Wash your hands frequently
– Maintain social distancing
– Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
– Practice respiratory hygiene
– If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
– Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider
In Britain, Public Health England confirmed that as of February 25, a total of 6,795 people have been tested in the UK, of which 6,782 were confirmed negative and 13 positive.
These figures now include the four cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate.
This permits the government to plan for all eventualities. However, the risk to individuals remains low.
PHE said: “We have been working in close collaboration with international colleagues and the World Health Organization to monitor the situation in China and around the world.”
One person in the UK is believed to have contracted the virus today, forcing lockdown in Canary Wharf.
American oil firm Chevron has evacuated and advised its 300-strong workforce to stay at home after one person returned from a coronavirus-infected country and reported flu-like symptoms.
They were sent for testing and told not to return until results are confirmed.
Two schools have also closed as the risk increases, and more have sent staff and pupils returning from infected areas into isolation.
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