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Doctors '99% certain' Belfast patient does not have deadly coronavirus


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)

Medics are almost certain a man who is being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for symptoms associated with the Wuhan coronavirus does not have the illness.

The patient is believed to have traveled to Northern Ireland from the city of Wuhan at the weekend and is currently being treated in an isolation ward as a precaution.

The Belfast Telegraph understands medics are "99% certain" the patient does not have the virus and that he is in good health.

It comes as 14 people in other parts of the UK - and suspected of carrying the virus - were given the all-clear.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

Results which will confirm whether he has the deadly virus are expected to be returned this evening.

There has been more than 500 confirmed cases of the virus globally, with 17 fatalities in China.

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

Meanwhile, the Government's Cobra contingencies committee will meet at midday to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

A No 10 spokesman said there were still no confirmed cases in the UK.

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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