Hundreds of people contacted as coronavirus case emerges after bus summit
Health officials have contacted more than 200 people who attended a conference in central London after it emerged one delegate is suffering from coronavirus.
Public Health England (PHE) has sent a letter to those who were at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre in Westminster on February 6, including several MPs.
The person taken ill is one of the nine people diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK.
Dr Yimmy Chow, consultant in health protection at PHE, said: “One of our main priorities has been to identify any people who we think have been in close contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 to provide public health advice, as they may be at slightly increased risk of catching the virus.
“While the degree of contact conference delegates may have had with the case is unlikely to have been significant, we have taken a precautionary approach and informed them of the situation.”
The PA news agency understands that the case is not linked to the ninth patient with coronavirus in the UK – a woman from China.
The Transport Times emailed delegates and enclosed a letter from PHE saying they should take no action if they were well but to stay indoors, avoid contact with others and call NHS 111 if they developed symptoms such as a fever or cough.
“While the degree of contact you may have had with the case at the summit is unlikely to have been significant, we are taking a precautionary approach and informing you,” the letter said.
The bus conference listed about 250 delegates from the nationwide bus and transport industry.
Among the speakers were buses minister Baroness Vere and former parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Nusrat Ghani.
Labour MP for Nottingham South Lilian Greenwood, who also spoke at the summit, tweeted that she had received PHE’s letter.
She added: “I’m feeling completely well but to be extra-cautious I’m cancelling my public engagements until 20th February. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
Labour MP for Leeds North West Alex Sobel, who attended the summit, tweeted that he was low risk but had called NHS 111 to be assessed.
He tweeted: “I attended the UK bus summit on the 6th Feb, where there was an attendee who has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Whilst I have been informed that I am at very low risk, I have called 111 to be formally assessed.”
A spokesman for Mr Sobel said he was not unwell and had no symptoms, but had decided to self-isolate at home until next week as a precaution.
Mr Sobel’s engagements have been cancelled until Wednesday.
It comes as United Airlines confirmed it offered assistance at Heathrow Airport on Friday after a passenger fell ill on one flight.
Reports on social media suggested the person involved may have had symptoms of coronavirus.
At least one more plane has been held at Heathrow for checks.
United Airlines said in a statement: “Our team at London Heathrow Airport is providing assistance related to United flight 901 (San Francisco-London Heathrow) today, following reports of an individual becoming unwell onboard.
“The safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority and we continue to work closely with local authorities.”
Andy West, from Henley-on-Thames, told MailOnline passengers were warned by the United plane’s captain that they could be on the tarmac for a while because “seven other planes” also had suspected cases.
He said staff on the flight took a passenger to the back of the plane without wearing any protective gear or face masks and waited for health officials to come.
Mr West said everyone was eventually allowed to disembark half-an-hour later.
Meanwhile, a Channel 4 employee is among those being tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell following a trip to Asia.
A Channel 4 spokesman said: “On Thursday, a member of staff at Channel 4 who had travelled to Asia within the last month felt unwell.
“As a precautionary measure, they decided to seek medical advice and, in line with the latest public health advice regarding the coronavirus, they were taken to hospital for a precautionary test.
“We have informed our staff of this and continue to follow all the latest public health guidance.”
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said on Thursday that many more people in the UK may need to self-isolate to contain the illness, which has been officially named Covid-19.
It comes as it emerged that the woman who is the UK’s ninth case of coronavirus took an Uber to A&E after she developed symptoms.
Two staff from Lewisham Hospital in south London are now in isolation at home after coming into contact with the woman.
In China, the number of deaths from coronavirus has reached 1,380, with more than 63,000 recorded infections, in figures announced early on Friday morning.
As of Friday, a total of 2,964 people have been tested in the UK, of which 2,955 were confirmed negative and nine positive.