Almost 100 people in UK test negative for coronavirus

Almost 100 people in the UK have now tested negative for coronavirus, the Department of Health and Social Care has said.

The latest results show that 97 people have been given the all-clear for the virus, although scientists predict it may well have already entered the country.

It comes as British citizens stranded in Wuhan were urged to contact the British consulate as part of repatriation plans.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Government is “working on” how to bring people home from the Chinese city.

He told BBC Breakfast: “For anybody who is there, one of the issues we have, working with our partners internationally on this, is actually identifying how many British citizens there are in Wuhan.

“One of the things we’re asking people to do is to contact the consulate there to make them aware. People have started to do that.

“We are working on arrangements as well.”

He added: “If they actually contact the consulate where they are then that consulate is in fact gathering together all the information of the people who are there, in order to help repatriate where that’s appropriate.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously insisted the Government is doing “everything we can” to get Britons out of Hubei province, which includes Wuhan.

Officials estimate up to 200 citizens currently there will want to return to the UK.

Hubei province has been on lockdown for several days as China seeks to contain the illness, as have other parts of China.

Hong Kong also said on Tuesday it would “temporarily” close some of its borders with mainland China and stop issuing travel permits to mainland Chinese tourists.

More than 100 people have now died in the country, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally.

On Monday, a 50-year-old man died from the virus in Beijing – the first death in the Chinese capital from the virus.

It comes as the UK expert developing a vaccine against coronavirus said it has a “very good chance” of being effective.

Professor Robin Shattock, head of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial College London, told the PA news agency he plans to start testing the vaccine on animals by the middle of February, with human studies in the summer if enough funding is secured.

And he warned there could be a second wave of coronavirus next winter across the globe.

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for people who have returned from Wuhan to “self-isolate” even if they have no symptoms.

He said officials could not be 100% certain the virus is not spread by people who are not displaying symptoms.

📒NEW BLOG: Wuhan novel coronavirus: what you need to know

— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) January 24, 2020

The move means more than 1,400 people who have returned from Wuhan since January 10 should isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of leaving China.

Some 1,561 people are now known to have entered the UK from Wuhan since January 10, including airline crew, although some have since left again.

Just 10% of these people supplied an email address to the airline and have been contacted with advice on what to do if they feel ill.

Mr Hancock said Public Health England officials are trying to trace the others.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, reports from Japan suggest the first case there of coronavirus in somebody with no history of travel to Wuhan.

Scientists are also working on emerging evidence which suggests the virus can be spread by people before they even develop symptoms.

This could hamper efforts to contain the virus as people who have no indication they are ill go about their usual daily lives.

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