Eight coronavirus cases in east of England as UK reports first death
PUBLISHED: 18:22 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 07:46 06 March 2020
There have now been eight confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the east of England, and health authorities today reported the UK’s first death.
The government announced today that the number of cases of the virus, offically named COVID-19, jumped to 115 nationwide.
It is currently unknown if any of the new cases are in Suffolk.
However, health authorities in the county have stepped up preparations for expected positive tests for the virus, which has affected nearly 100,000 people worldwide.
Amenities such as handwash and hand sanitiser have been selling out at shops in Suffolk, with many shoppers also stocking up on food.
One case of COVID-19 - a man at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow - has already been confirmed in Essex.
Several schools in Suffolk have recently sent students home over fears they may have the virus after recently travelling to Italy - where 148 people have died and nearly 4,000 cases have been confirmed.
Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said we should prepare for cases to be confirmed in Suffolk - but believes the county's health services are braced for the impact.
He said: "We're now moving beyond the stage of trying to contain the virus to the stage of slowing it.
"It is inevitable there will be cases in Suffolk, if not already.
"However, it is important we recognise that most of the people who contract it will only experience mild symptoms.
"Preparations have been underway locally for several weeks now. We are well placed.
"As long as we can slow down transmission, that should allow our hospitals time to get over the busy winter period."
The news of the latest cases comes as the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust announced an elderly patient became the first person in the UK to die from the disease.
In a statement, the trust said the victim, a woman in her 70s, had underlying health conditions and had been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said on Thursday that the UK is now mainly in the 'delay' phase of its four-point plan to combat the virus - resulting in more action being taken to slow its spread.