Suffolk coronavirus patient recently returned from Italy, officials confirm

PUBLISHED: 07:01 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:28 10 March 2020

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed five new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the east of England  Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed five new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the east of England Picture: PHILIP TOSCANO/PA WIRE

The first person to be diagnosed with coronavirus in Suffolk had recently travelled to Italy, it has been revealed.

The individual, who tested positive for the virus known at COVID-19, had picked up the illness while on a trip to the European country and is now receiving help from medical professionals.

Health officials are now trying to contact anyone who has recently been in contact with the person.

Suffolk County Council have also said they are 'fully expecting' further cases to be confirmed in the area.

Dr David Edwards, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health England East, said: 'Public Health England is contacting people who have had close contact with the confirmed case of COVID-19.

'We are working closely with local NHS colleagues as well as Suffolk County Council to manage the situation and help reduce the risk of further cases.

'Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case.

'This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.'

The person is one of 319 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK as of March 9.

It is currently not known where the Suffolk patient is from or where they are being treated.

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A further five people have already tested positive for coronavirus, known as Covid-19, in Essex. 

Following the first case in Suffolk, the county council has established a mulitagency group to tackle the outbreak.

Suffolk County Council's Director of Public Health, Stuart Keeble said: 'We can confirm that we have our first case of coronavirus in Suffolk.

'We understand that the individual recently returned from a trip to Italy.

'The patient is receiving help from the NHS, and Public Health England is working to trace any contacts in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

'This new case is not unexpected.

'We fully anticipate an increase in numbers which is why our services have planned for, and are ready, for this situation.

'We have established a multiagency group which is working together to respond to the situation and is meeting on a regular basis.

'The most important thing you can do to significantly reduce the spread of the virus is to take basic hygiene precautions including washing your hands frequently with warm soapy water for 20 seconds, don't touch your face unless you've just washed your hands.

'If you do not have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it and wash your hands. We should do this all day every day as we should for flu.

'If you are concerned that you may have coronavirus, call NHS 111 in the first instance and do not go to your GP or to the hospital. They will be able to guide you.'

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