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Coronavirus: Belfast patient tests negative for condition


A test is understood to have been carried out at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast (Paul Faith/PA)

A test is understood to have been carried out at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast (Paul Faith/PA)

A test is understood to have been carried out at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast (Paul Faith/PA)

A patient in Belfast who was suspected of having the coronavirus has tested negative for the condition.

The man is believed to have travelled to Northern Ireland from the city of Wuhan at the weekend.

He was being treated in the Royal Victoria Hospital after displaying symptoms associated with the condition.

The infection outbreak began in Wuhan and has so far killed 41 people in China.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

The Department of Health said the risk to the public remains low after confirming the man does not have the condition.

It said they were continuing to "closely monitor the situation".

Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride said: "I am being kept fully informed about the steps being taken to protect the public by the Public Health Agency and I am providing the Minister with regular updates."

Another 1,246 cases have been confirmed in China, along with three in France.

The number of people tested for coronavirus in the UK has passed 30, but there are still no confirmed cases, the Government has said.

As of Saturday afternoon, 31 people across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been tested for the deadly flu-like virus, however, all tests have come back negative, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

This indicates that tests on 17 people have been completed in the last 24 hours, after 14 people had been given the all-clear by Friday afternoon.

The virus causes pneumonia, with those who have fallen ill reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties.

Meanwhile students and staff at Queen's University were advised to mention to health services any travel to the Chinese province.

"If you do need to travel to China, it is important to maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene, and to avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms," an email said.

At Ulster University students and staff were issued similar guidance.

Damian McAllister, director of people and culture at the university added: “The safety and welfare of our students and staff is a key priority for Ulster University. We will continue to monitor the evolving situation taking advice from the relevant agencies as to appropriate action.”

The Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland has advised anyone who has been to Wuhan within the past 14 days and developed respiratory symptoms to call their GP.

Symptoms include a cough, a sneeze, shortness of breath, or a fever.

The agency advises that people should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene. And anyone with symptoms and who recently visited China urged to seek advice.

Government officials are working on contacting those who recently returned from China.

Medical officials across the UK have been working together to assess the situation.

Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said: "At the minute, it definitely looks like this is a lot less dangerous if you get it than Ebola, and a lot less dangerous than the recent coronavirus MERS, and it's probably less dangerous if you get it than SARS virus.

"What we don't know is how far it's going to spread, that really is something we need to plan for all eventualities."

He added: "I am working closely with the other UK chief medical officers.

"We all agree that the risk to the UK public remains low, but there may well be cases in the UK at some stage.

"We have tried and tested measures in place to respond. The UK is well-prepared for these types of incidents, with excellent readiness against infectious diseases.

"We have global experts monitoring the situation around the clock and have a strong track record of managing new forms of infectious disease.

"The UK has access to some of the best infectious disease and public health experts in the world.

"A public health hub will be set up in Heathrow from today. This consists of clinicians and other public health officials, in addition to existing port health measures."

Have you recently visited Wuhan province in China? Email digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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