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Man undergoing tests in Belfast hospital for deadly Wuhan coronavirus

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Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital last month

Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital last month

Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital last month

A man is being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for symptoms associated with the potentially fatal Wuhan coronavirus.

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

The man is believed to have travelled to Northern Ireland from the city of Wuhan at the weekend and is currently being treated in an isolation ward.

It will be some time before results are returned, and there is no suggestion at this stage that the patient has coronavirus.

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

The Belfast Health Trust was unable to make any comment.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) also declined to comment directly on the case.

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Royal Victoria Hospital

Royal Victoria Hospital

Royal Victoria Hospital

However, PHA confirmed it is monitoring developments regarding the outbreak of the potentially fatal Wuhan coronavirus.

It said it is working with health bodies around the UK and issued advice to any members of the public travelling to or from China.

In a statement they said: "The Public Health Agency is keeping abreast of the changing situation around the Wuhan novel coronavirus, and is liaising with partners across the UK including Public Health England and our local Health Trusts on this issue.

"As part of this, the health service here is monitoring for any potential cases of Wuhan novel coronavirus."

In its advice to the public, the PHA said: "Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK.

"People who plan to travel should check the travel advice on gov.uk. This is an evolving situation and we will provide updates and further guidance as required."

Yesterday, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said a trade mission to China is now under review after the outbreak.

The civic visit by a council delegation is due to take place in April.

A spokesperson said it was "currently considering" the planned visit and that it would "closely monitor the situation".

Schools and other academic institutions with students from China have also taken additional precautions as a result of the outbreak.

Bert Robinson, head of boarding at Campbell College, Belfast, confirmed that while there are no boarding students from the affected region, the college houses four students with addresses in other parts of China.

He said: "Each of these boys has already been assessed by our school nurse and in consultation with the GP.

"None of these students are presenting with any symptoms and each student is being assessed on a daily basis as we continue to monitor the situation very closely.

"The health and wellbeing of our pupils is of the utmost importance and we are following all Public Health Agency guidance to ensure the ongoing safety of all our pupils."

A total of six people are being tested for the illness in the UK, five of them in Scotland.

The Chinese government has effectively locked down Wuhan, cancelling planes and trains there and in the nearby city of Huanggang.

Last night, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was "too early" to declare an international public health emergency over the outbreak.

It came after infections expert Professor Jurgen Haas claimed there would likely be "many more cases".

The WHO said: "The Emergency Committee on the new #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) considered that it is still too early to declare a public health emergency of international concern given its restrictive and binary nature."

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said: "Make no mistake, this is though an emergency in China.

"But it has not yet become a global health emergency.

"It may yet become one."

He said 584 cases have been reported to the WHO, including 17 deaths, with 575 of the overall cases and all the deaths reported in China.

Other cases have been reported in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

Dr Tedros said the fact he was not declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) "should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious".

He added: "We are aware of media reports of suspected cases in other countries, but those cases are still being investigated."

Belfast Telegraph