Thousands of people could be exposed to the coronavirus on the London Underground, doctors warn after the city finds its first case
Doctors have warned that London Underground's subway network could increase exposure to the coronavirus after it emerged that the British capital's first case of the disease has been hospitalized, according to Sky News. It it not known what transport the infected woman — believed to be a Chinese national — used after landing in the UK's capital. She is currently being treated in a London hospital. London Underground, known to locals as "the Tube," is used by 1.3 billion passengers per year and was found in 2017 to be the "dirtiest" branch of the UK capital's transport network. The London case is the UK's ninth case of the coronavirus – now officially named COVID-19 – and the UK government has raised its estimate of risk to the public from "low" to "moderate." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
One of the UK's busiest transport networks could be an ideal place to spread the coronavirus, an Oxford University academic told Sky News today. The comments come after the UK's ninth coronavirus patient was confirmed in London – the capital's first case – who is believed to be a female Chinese national, according to Sky News. The woman picked up the virus in China before arriving in London, the UK's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has confirmed in a statement. He added that she is currently being treated at London's Guy's and St Thomas' hospital. It is unclear whether or not she used the capital's subway – known in Britain as "the Tube" – after leaving the airport.
England's public health authority, Public Health England, has advised people travelling from Hubei, and anyone with symptoms who has recently travelled to China and affected neighboring countries, to avoid public transport and taxis. But Dr Robin Thompson, a junior research fellow at Oxford University, said the case presents an "increased risk" to Londoners because of the city's dense population and wealth of transport connections, reported Sky News. Dr Thompson, whose specialisms include the spread of epidemics, told the outlet: "In general, if an initial case is in a densely populated area, then the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission following is higher. "This is exacerbated by the fact that London is a transport hub, and the Underground could provide a network to spread the virus quickly." "As a result, given this case was in London, it might be expected that there is an increased risk posed by this case compared to the others we have seen."
Epidemiologist Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow at the University of Southampton, told Sky News that the risk to Londoners depends on her interactions after landing. "If this is low, then the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is also low," he said. The 250-mile Tube network, which serves 1.3 billion passengers per year, was described in a 2017 study as the "dirtiest form of transport in the capital." "London: Under the Microscope" – a collaboration between insurers Staveley Head and London Metropolitan University – found nine so-called "superbugs" – bacteria that are resistant to antibacterial treatment – on the city's transport. In a statement updated on Wednesday, the UK's executive agency for health, Public Health England, said that more COVID-19 cases are "highly likely" in the UK. The risk to the public has been raised from "low" to "moderate." The Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Monday new powers for health workers to forcibly quarantine people who are at risk of spreading the infection, saying he is taking a "belt and braces approach" to the issue – British slang for making doubly sure.
Read more: Here's everything we know about the coronavirus outbreak. 2 inmates at a UK jail were tested for the Wuhan coronavirus after a prisoner collapsed in his cell. Here's why prisons are among the worst places to handle outbreaks. The US just completed its first successful quarantine in almost 60 years. 11 crew on the quarantined coronavirus cruise ship have contracted the disease — and the rest are afraid they'll be next Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Behind the scenes with Shepard Smith — the Fox News star who just announced his resignation from the network
More like this (3)
Steve Rotheram says covering face would make people more aware of coronavirus situationCoronavirus – latest updatesSee...Steve Rotheram says covering face would make people more aware of coronavirus situationCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageSteve Rotheram is the latest mayor to urge people to wear masks in public after Sadiq Khan called on the government to make them compulsory on transport in London during the coronavirus outbreak.The metro mayor of Liverpool city region said wearing any type of face covering meant Britons were likely to “go further in protecting [themselves] and other people”. Continue reading...
Train and bus services are to be limited as travel is restricted, raising questions for both...Train and bus services are to be limited as travel is restricted, raising questions for both passengers and operatorsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMore draconian restrictions may be needed in London to stop the spread of the coronavirus, with guidance to avoid non-essential travel and stay home being ignored by some, while confirmed cases of sickness escalate rapidly. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, told his Wednesday press conference that he was prepared to take “further and faster measures” to tackle the disease.Transport for London (TfL) is now moving to cut the number of trains and buses running throughout the week, most likely to the level of weekend schedules. On Wednesday night it announced it was closing up to 40 stations with no interchange from Thursday onwards. But what are the key issues transport chiefs need to consider when limiting services? Continue reading...
Decisions raises fears public won’t be able to make informed choices to help control outbreakCoronavirus –...Decisions raises fears public won’t be able to make informed choices to help control outbreakCoronavirus – latest news and updatesThe government has been accused of withholding information about the spread of coronavirus after a 70% increase in confirmed cases prompted health officials to stop providing daily updates on the location of new infections.As Downing Street confirmed that discussions are taking place on contingency plans to close the Houses of Parliament if the outbreak becomes widespread, 36 new UK cases were announced yesterday. Continue reading...