Coronavirus: York University Student One Of Confirmed UK Cases

A university spokesperson confirmed the news on Saturday morning.
The hotel where the two individuals were staying.
The hotel where the two individuals were staying.
Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

One of the two individuals who tested positive for coronavirus is a student at the University of York, a spokesperson for the university has confirmed.

It was confirmed that the individual and a family member were the first in the UK to have been infected with the virus on Friday. They were staying at a StayCity hotel in York when they fell ill.

Public Health England has advised university officials that the risk of infection being passed on campus is “low”, the spokesperson said.

They said: “Public Health England (PHE) have informed us that one of the two individuals to have tested positive for coronavirus is a student at the University of York.

“We understand this development will cause concern and anxiety among our students, staff, and the wider community.

“PHE has advised us that the risk of infection being passed to others on campus is low. Current information from PHE suggests that the student did not come into contact with anybody on campus whilst they had symptoms, but investigations are ongoing to fully establish this.

“Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the health and continued wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors.”

The outbreak has killed at least 259 people in China, and almost 12,000 – the vast majority of which live in China – are now confirmed to have been infected.

The University of York’s vice-chancellor, professor Charlie Jeffery. said: “Our immediate concerns are for the affected student and family, along with the health and continued wellbeing of our students, staff, and the residents and visitors of our city.

“We understand this development will cause concern and anxiety.

“I want to reassure our students, staff and the wider community, that we are working closely with the lead agency, Public Health England, and other agencies to manage this situation.”

Public Health England is continuing to work to try to trace people who had close contact – defined as being within two metres of the infected person for 15 minutes – with the pair.

The hotel firm has said the apartment involved has been thoroughly disinfected and PHE has been providing support.

The University of Derby confirmed “a very small number” of students who came back from Wuhan before travel restrictions were put in place are self-isolating for 14 days.

A spokeswoman for the university said all the students are fit and well.

Eleanor Sutherland, 24, lives just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel in York where the first two people found confirmed to have the virus in the UK were staying.

“I saw coverage in Thursday’s local news about the patients being removed from the hotel – it seemed serious so I was prepared for an announcement on Friday,” she said.

“It’s quite surreal that this news should break right on my doorstep, but cases were bound to be found in the UK and it had to happen somewhere.

“I’m trying to keep things in perspective. I shop in StayCity’s adjoining Co-Op almost daily – it’s odd to see part of your everyday life all over the news. I just hope anyone who falls ill gets the help they need, and that the virus hasn’t spread too far already.”

Meanwhile, 83 British nationals evacuated from Wuhan have spent their first night of two weeks in quarantine, having arrived at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral in a convoy of six coaches on Friday evening.

One of the people on the rescue flight – which also carried 27 non-UK nationals to Brize Norton RAF base in Oxfordshire – described the accommodation at the NHS staff accommodation block in Merseyside as “perfectly nice”.

In a video blog from inside his room Matt Raw told the Guardian: “They’ve actually put a bag here containing various essentials that we might need – underwear and things that people might not have had time to pack.

“It’s a perfectly nice room. We’ve got all the essentials that we need.”

The evacuees have been supplied with food, and laundry facilities, and have access to the internet and a team of medical staff who will closely monitor their conditions.

Kitchens are available for those who wish to self-cater, and families are being kept together, with games consoles, toys and cots provided.

Coaches which transported the evacuees were seen parked in a fenced-off area of the staff car park at the hospital on Saturday morning. It is understood they will be taken away to be decontaminated later.

In another development on Saturday the Foreign Office announced it is withdrawing some staff from China.

It said essential staff will remain to continue “critical work” but warned that its ability to provide help to Britons in the country may be “limited”.

The British Consulate-General in Wuhan was also closed on Friday after the evacuation flight.

UK ministers have said the Government will send another plane to Wuhan to rescue British citizens if needed and the PA news agency understands that the Foreign Office (FCO) is working with EU countries to add British passengers to any rescue flights they may charter back from the city.


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