Coronavirus: NHS told how to handle 'infectious' bodies amid 'grave' concerns bug will hit UK 'within days'

NHS staff have been put on high alert over how to handle "infectious" bodies as there are concerns the killer bug will hit the UK "within days".

The 11-page guide was prepared by Public Health England and has advised GPs to avoid examining suspected coronavirus victims and keep them in closed rooms.

In the PHE guide seen by The Sunday Times, staff were told: "The act of moving a recently deceased patient onto a hospital trolley for transportation to the mortuary might be sufficient to expel small amounts of air from the lungs and thereby present a minor risk.

“A body bag should be used for transferring the body and those handling the body at this point should use full PPE [personal protective equipment]."

It added that any staff who meet potential victims must wear "full-face visors".

All 31 people across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that had been tested for the deadly flu-like virus were negative, but there a fears the UK could have its first positive test "within days".

A senior Government source told the Mail on Sunday last night: "We are determined to lead the world in the response to this.

"We are accelerating our plans for dealing with the virus when it finally arrives here."

The source added the first positive UK test is expected "within days".

The Border Force is hunting down 2,000 people who have recently travelled from Wuhan – the epicentre of virus outbreak.

The Department of Health confirmed it was trying to find "as many passengers as we can" who came to UK from Wuhan in the past two weeks to check on their wellbeing.

It comes as passengers travelling from China to the UK were not screened last week when they arrived into London sparking fears the deadly coronavirus could spread in Britain.

Holidaymakers who touched down at London Heathrow from Wuhan were shocked as they were simply handed a leaflet and told to call NHS 111 if they felt ill.

Brits were left stunned by the lack of advice given to them as they arrived home today.

One arrival said: "All we got was a leaflet, that's it.

"It seems odd because I knew American cities were screening. I was not screened leaving Wahun, or in the UK. I didn't see anybody get screened. It would have made sense."

He added: "I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to get out [of Wuhan], but as I have I would expect more to get out frankly."


On Friday, experts warned Britain could be swarming with "zombies" infected by the deadly coronavirus infection without even knowing it.

Professor Robert Dingwall, a public health expert at Nottingham Trent University, told The Sun Online it would impossible to know just how many people could be infected by the killer virus for two weeks.

He said: "The problem at the moment is determining how bad the Wuhan coronavirus really is".

The virus has killed 56 people and infected more than 2,000 globally after it is believed to have originated from a meat market in Wuhan – a city with 11million people in the Hubei province.

China's president Xi Jinping yesterday warned of a "grave situation" as he said the killer coronavirus was "accelerating its speed".

Resources and experts will be placed at designated hospitals to tackle the virus and supplies to the Hubei province, where the virus originated, will be guaranteed and cost won't be a hindrance, according to the TV report.

The government has sent 450 military medical staff, including those who have experience in fighting against SARS or Ebola, to the epicentre of the outbreak, according to People's Daily.

Wuhan has been placed on lockdown since Thursday as the Foreign Office has urged all Britons trapped in the city to leave if they are able to.

The Foreign Office updated its guidance to "advise against all travel to Hubei province", which has been on lockdown for several days as China seeks to contain the illness.

But the guidance also added: "If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so. This is due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak."

UK Home Secretary Patel said today the government was "looking at all options" as it considers airlifting British nationals from Wuhan.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.

The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

In most cases, you won't know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.

But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus.

In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.

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