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Coronavirus student did not meet other residents, university confirms

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he expects more cases to be diagnosed in the UK.

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Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman suspected of being ill in Wuhan (Chinatopix/AP)

Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman suspected of being ill in Wuhan (Chinatopix/AP)

Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman suspected of being ill in Wuhan (Chinatopix/AP)

A student who contracted coronavirus returned to his apartment but did not come into contact with other residents, the University of York has confirmed.

The unnamed student, who is being treated with a relative at a specialist facility in Newcastle, was not in the Vita Student block when he came into contact with the virus but “did return to their room on one occasion and stayed overnight”, the university said, as it moved to reassure other students.

In statement on Tuesday, it said: “During this brief period the student did not meet other residents or staff at the building or make use of the communal facilities.”

The development in York came as thousands of Britons in mainland China were urged to leave as coronavirus continues to claim more lives in the country.

And Public Health England (PHE) confirmed a Belgian woman on board the same French flight that brought back UK citizens from China on Sunday has tested positive for the new strain.

Nick Phin, PHE’s National Infection Service deputy director, said: “All of the individuals who were on this flight are currently in supervised isolation and are being monitored for symptoms.”

The Foreign Office amended its travel advice after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he expects more cases to be diagnosed in the UK.

Officials told the PA news agency the update was a prudent step in case more commercial airlines stopped flights out of China, or China extended travel restrictions.

The university said the Vita Student block is used by students of the University of York and York St John University.

It said the new information came to light as part of PHE’s investigations following the announcement at the weekend of the cases in York – still the only two confirmed in the UK.

PHE has been working to trace people who had close contact with the pair, who had checked into the Staycity apartment-hotel in York.

The university said the new information does not change its risk assessment of “low” and that there is negligible risk of onward transmission of the virus.

Max Bielby, managing director of Vita Student, said: “As confirmed by Public Health England (PHE), the affected student is a resident in our City of York accommodation, and did return to their apartment for an overnight period.

“We are reassured that the PHE investigation has established that the student did not come into contact with any other resident in the Vita York development, and that no additional precautionary measures are required.”

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We now advise British nationals in China to leave the country if they can, to minimise their risk of exposure to the virus.

“Where there are still British nationals in Hubei province who wish to be evacuated, we will continue to work around the clock to facilitate this.”

The Foreign Office added that commercial flights departing from China were still available throughout the country, except in Hubei where the virus originated.

It comes as Mr Raab told MPs the Government had been “allocated 14 places on an Air New Zealand fight today for UK nationals and their dependants”.

The Foreign Office has declined to say how many British nationals in Hubei province have come forward to say they wish to return to the UK, but the last flights out of Wuhan are expected to leave this week.

The updated Foreign Office advice comes after Mr Hancock said on Monday there were “no plans to evacuate all remaining UK nationals in China”.

He added: “We haven’t seen the peak of the coronavirus by a long stretch and we expect more cases in the UK.

“We have a full plan in place to treat all those who have symptoms and test positively for coronavirus and we are working with international partners both to slow the spread and also to do the research that we need to do to find a vaccine.”

Health officials are trying to trace 239 people who flew from Wuhan to the UK before travel restrictions came into force.

A total of 94 UK nationals and family members have been evacuated to Britain from Wuhan on two flights which arrived on Friday and Sunday.

One passenger was taken to hospital in Oxford after telling medics he had a cough and a cold.

The rest of those who came back are in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.

Chinese authorities said on Tuesday that the death toll on the mainland has risen to 425, with the number of cases now standing at 20,438.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

In an interview with PA on Tuesday, a British man who fears he contracted coronavirus said he is isolated in his apartment in Wuhan and has been given no indication of when he will be able to leave the city.

Jamie Morris, a 23-year-old teacher from New Tredegar in South Wales, said he believes he may have contracted the virus at the end of November, before the mass outbreak prompted global media attention.

He said he had not been able to make the recent flights back to the UK because his passport had been given to the Chinese government to extend his residency permit.

He said the Foreign Office’s crisis team in London had told him “to be patient and they will be in touch if anything changes”.

The Department of Health said that, as of Tuesday, 414 people have tested negative for coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation said it is still early in the outbreak, but coronavirus does not yet constitute a pandemic.

PA