Coronavirus patient works at cancer unit, NHS confirms as UK cases reach 40

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read
 Rome February 27th 2020. Tourists wearing masks around Trevi Fountains. Photo Samantha Zucchi /Insidefoto/Sipa USA)
Europe has seen a rise in coronavirus cases, with the UK's climbing to 36. (Photo Samantha Zucchi /Insidefoto/Sipa USA)

One of the most recent cases of the coronavirus in England is a clinician at a cancer unit, it has been confirmed.

The health professional works at Mount Vernon Care Centre in Northwood, Middlesex, run by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust moved to calm fears about the virus spreading to patients, saying: “We are very well prepared for incidents like this and the NHS and Public Health England are taking all necessary steps to manage the situation.

“All individuals who were in contact with the clinician have been identified and the appropriate measures taken.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the command centre at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale, north London, after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK leapt to 35 after 12 new patients were identified in England.
Boris Johnson visits the command centre at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale, north London. (PA Images)

“The risk to patients and staff at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre is very low and we are working with individual patients to appropriately manage their care.

“We would like to offer assurance that it remains safe for patients to attend Mount Vernon Cancer Centre as normal and ask patients to attend scheduled outpatients appointments.”

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is to chair an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday, after having been criticised repeatedly for not having done so.

Read more: What could a coronavirus worst-case scenario really look like in the UK?

The meeting comes as the number of UK cases of the coronavirus – officially known as Covid-19 – climbed to 40 on Monday.

Scotland has declared its first case, while three family members of the first person in the UK to contract the virus were also confirmed to have tested positive.

Three cases in West Yorkshire were confirmed, with two of them having picked up the virus in Iran, while one had visited Italy.

A person in Bury was infected in Italy and is being treated at a specialist infection centre.

Four further cases were in Hertfordshire, Devon and Kent and followed recent travel from Italy.

The prime minister is due to set out contingency plans for the virus, which could include banning large public gatherings.

Read more: Coronavirus could return every winter 'like the common cold'

“The number of coronavirus cases around the world is rising every day – and the UK is no exception,” he is reportedly due to tell the Cobra meeting.

“There now seems little doubt that it will present a significant challenge for our country.

“But we are well prepared, and the government and the NHS will stop at nothing to fight this virus.”

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, arrives for the funeral of Frank Dobson at St Pancras Church in London.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth arrives for the funeral of Frank Dobson at St Pancras Church in London. (PA Images)

The shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said he could support shutting down cities to fight an outbreak.

“If the medical advice and the scientific advice is to take measures along those lines, of course we would support them,” he told BBC Breakfast.

Read more: What it’s like to run a town under coronavirus lockdown

He continued: “It would be a move by government so drastic that we hadn’t seen it. And I’m not sure how practical it could be in reality.

“However, this virus is serious and appears to spread very easily and we need to contain it and slow down the spread.

“If the medical advice is to do something like that, then of course we should support it.

“That is why I am keen, however, that Matt Hancock, the health secretary, comes to the House of Commons today after the Cobra meeting to update MPs on plans.

“We just need clarity from government.”