Five people tested for coronavirus in Scotland

By Douglas Barrie and Laura Paterson, PA Scotland

Five people are being tested for suspected coronavirus in Scotland, according to the Scottish Government.

While none of the cases have been confirmed so far, two had been diagnosed with influenza after travelling to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak is thought to have originated.

The other three are “undergoing testing on a similar precautionary basis”, a statement said on Thursday evening.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus (WN Co-V) in Scotland and the risk to the Scottish public remains low.

“Following travel to Wuhan, China, two people confirmed as diagnosed with influenza are now being tested for Wuhan novel coronavirus as a precautionary measure only.

“Three further people are also undergoing testing on a similar precautionary basis.

“As the situation develops we will update should there be any confirmed cases of coronavirus, rather than provide a running update on cases being considered on a precautionary basis.”

An incident management team is working with Health Protection Scotland to monitor any other potential cases.

(PA Graphics)

Speaking to the PA news agency, Professor Jurgen Haas said three of the cases are in Edinburgh with one believed to be in Glasgow.

The head of infection medicine at the University of Edinburgh also said: “The situation will be pretty similar in pretty much all UK cities with a large number of Chinese students.”

A spokeswoman for the University of Glasgow said that while there was a partnership agreement with Zhongnan University in Wuhan, “all our Chinese students on this programme (in Glasgow) are currently studying at the university and in good health”.

She added: “No University of Glasgow students attend university in Wuhan.”

The University of Aberdeen also has a partnership with Wuhan University, but was not aware of any students in the region.

A spokesman said: “The university is aware of five members of staff who have visited Wuhan during the outbreak, four of whom returned to the university three or more weeks ago.

“Advice regarding travel precautions has been issued to staff and students in line with Government guidance.”

A spokesman for the University of Dundee said it has issued advice to students recently in China and said they should be careful if receiving items, especially food, from areas where the virus is present.

It runs a joint education partnership with Wuhan University and 34 students on the programme arrived in Dundee in September.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was questioned about the risk to people in Scotland at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

She said the situation is being closely monitored, adding: “I should say that the risk to the public here in Scotland – and indeed the UK – is currently classified as low but that is kept under review.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This is a global news story and there will be significant public interest in knowing that this virus will be kept under control.

“The Health Secretary must ensure that the public are kept up to date on progress in tackling this outbreak.

“She will have the full support of the Lib Dems in any measures she needs to put through Parliament.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the debating chamber during FMQs (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “We are co-orientating with Health Protection Scotland a daily incident management team to continue to monitor the situation as it develops, including on the number of any potential cases going forward.

“We have robust arrangements to manage emerging diseases and are monitoring this situation closely.

“We are making appropriate preparations and anyone arriving at Heathrow from Wuhan and transferring to a flight to Scotland will, along with all other arriving passengers, be met by a health team from Public Health England at Heathrow who will check for symptoms.

“The current advice to travellers is against all but essential travel to Wuhan.

“Passengers should take precautions such as practising good hand hygiene, personal and respiratory hygiene, and to minimise contact with birds and animals in markets in Wuhan or elsewhere in China.

“Any travellers returning from Wuhan or elsewhere in China who become unwell, particularly with respiratory symptoms, within 14 days of their return, are advised to call their GP or NHS 111 and report their recent travel.”