Coronavirus: School and GP surgery shut as new UK cases confirmed

Sunita Patel-Carstairs, news reporter

A primary school and a GP surgery have closed as two people who returned from Italy and Tenerife have tested positive for coronavirus in England.

The headteacher of Burbage Primary in Buxton, Derbyshire, which has 350 pupils, told Sky News the school was shut because a pupil's parent has tested positive for COVID-19.

A message was sent to parents via multiple social media platforms on Wednesday night saying the decision had been taken as a "precautionary measure and to enable a deep clean to be completed".

But health officials said there was no need for the school to be shut.

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw from Public Health England East Midlands, said: "My team have spoken to the school, assessed the risk and confirmed there is currently no information to suggest that there is any increased health risk to any pupils or staff at the school.

"And no public health reason to remain closed at the current time."

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It comes as Buxton Medical Practice announced it was closed because of a confirmed case.

"We have a confirmed case of coronavirus, we are liaising with Public Health England the CCG to ensure all appropriate actions are taken. Please do not come to the practice," the GP surgery said in a statement.

Confirming the two new cases which brings the total in the UK to 15, Professor Chris Witty, chief medical officer for England, said the patients had been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres.

He said: "The virus was passed on in Italy and Tenerife and the patients have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres in Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, London."

In other developments:

More than 82,100 people have been infected with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, resulting in more than 2,800 fatalities.

Most of the casualties have been in China, where the disease originated, but the virus has steadily spread across the globe.

In the UK, 7,132 people have been tested for the virus, and out of the more than a dozen that have tested positive, eight have since been discharged from hospital.

At least eight schools have closed while others - including Prince George's school - have sent pupils home amid fears they may have been exposed to coronavirus during half-term trips to affected areas in northern Italy.

Italy has the highest number of cases in Europe, with more than 500 people infected, and 14 people have died.

In the Middle East, there have been 26 fatalities in Iran which has the highest death toll outside China.

In the United States, which has 60 cases, President Donald Trump said "there's no reason to be panicked" and he has put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of overseeing the country's response.

After Brazil confirmed Latin America's first case this week, the virus has reached every continent except Antarctica.

With the surge in coronavirus cases around the world, on Tuesday the number of new infections outside China exceeded those recorded inside the country for the first time since the start of the viral outbreak in December.

Around 160 British tourists stuck in quarantine at a Tenerife hotel over coronavirus fears have been told they must stay in isolation for 14 days.

One British guest, who did not want to be named, told Sky News on Thursday there is a "real fear" among holidaymakers that they will catch the virus.

"There is a WhatsApp group for us Brits. Main concern being expressed is the lack of consistency with regards to hygiene," they said.

"Restaurant was open last night. Buffet style so people are wandering around food without face masks. We collected food and took it back to our room. We know others were prevented from doing that.

"My blood pressure meds ran out yesterday. I was given alternative just for last night so I am short again.

"There is real fear amongst the Brits is we will catch this."

They added: "Do not let anyone tell you the hotel staff are letting us down. They are putting themselves in danger and are doing what they can."

COVID-19 has been fatal in 2% of reported cases, with the elderly and ill the most vulnerable, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

There is no vaccine yet for the new viral infection, which health officials think spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Advice is for people to wash their hands with soap and water and avoid close contact with people who are sick.