Risk of Sars-like outbreak ‘very low’ despite person-to-person infection in Manchester case, say experts

By Helen Le Caplain

A deadly Sars-like virus which has hospitalised three people in Britain already can be transmitted between humans, but the threat remains ‘very low’, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

It was revealed yesterday that a relative of the infected Manchester man is now being treated for coronavirus after coming into contact with the Wythenshawe Hospital patient.

Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, stressed that although it suggests the illness is contagious, the patient had an existing medical condition which made him more susceptible to contracting the virus.

He said: “This case is a family member who was in close personal contact with the earlier case and who may have been at greater risk of acquiring an infection because of their underlying health condition.

“To date, evidence of person-to-person transmission has been limited.

“Although this case provides strong evidence for person to person transmission, the risk of infection in most circumstances is still considered to be very low.”

He added: “In light of this latest case we would like to emphasise that the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains very low.”

The man being treated in Wythenshawe Hospital contracted the virus having recently travelled to the Middle East.

The latest victim is being treated at Queen’s Hospital Birmingham and brings the total number of identified worldwide cases of coronavirus, from which five people have died, up to eleven.

Picture courtesy of AJC1, with thanks.

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