Coronavirus fears have hit the UK after a British Airways plane from Hong Kong was put on lockdown on the runway amid fears infected patients were on board.
The doors were kept sealed and passengers were prevented from getting off when it landed at 5am this morning after two travellers complained of feeling unwell.
Concerned passengers were reportedly asked forced to fill out questionnaires about their health and travel history.
The plane remained on lockdown on the runway for more than 45 minutes before the passengers and crew were allowed to disembark.
Health bosses in the UK are on red alert after the coronavirus epidemic death toll soared to 170 and cases of infection jumped to nearly 8,000 today.
MailOnline has seen one of the questionnaires which quizzed passengers about recent travel history, who they had flown with and their current health.
They were also asked to sign a form confirming they are ‘currently well and do not have any of the following symptoms – fever, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, runny nose.’
Passengers were kept on a BA flight from Hong Kong to Heathrow this morning amid fears some patients were infected with coronavirus. Pictured: Two passengers in first class are seen wearing face masks
Passengers were told not to leave until they had signed forms about their health and travel history (left). Right: They were also asked to sign a form confirming they are ‘currently well and do not have any of the following symptoms – fever, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, runny nose’
The killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world has now infected every region of China and 20 other countries. The death toll is 170 and cases have soared past 7,900
One passenger told MailOnline: ‘Everyone seemed nervous getting on.
‘The crew were wearing face-masks. Other than that it was fairly uneventful until breakfast, which was around one hour outside of Heathrow.
‘All of a sudden I heard one of the crew mention that two passengers were showing coronavirus symptoms.’
‘For the next hour or so, the crew was considering what to do.
‘The pilot then came on and said everyone had to sit on the plane because the health authority is coming on board.’
In footage from on board the flight, the pilot can be heard saying: ‘They [medics] are going to come on the aircraft with some forms.
‘They’re just about one or two minutes away now. All that we ask that you do is complete those forms, had them back to the Port Health Authorities.
‘Once we have those forms you’re free to leave the aircraft.’ He added: ‘I know you really want to leave and I totally understand your frustration.
World Health Organization figures show just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by Sunday, January 26. This has now risen dramatically to 7,817, with cases in the US, Australia and Canada
As well as a dramatic increase in cases of the never-before-seen virus, figures also show the number of deaths have spiralled. Since yesterday, deaths rose by 38, marking the biggest 24-hour jump since the outbreak began last month
‘But do trust us we are doing all we can to get those forms to you, to get clearance from Port Health so we can let you leave the aircraft.’
It comes after BA extended its suspension on flights to mainland China until March in a bid to prevent the disease making its way to Britain.
All flights to Beijing and Shanghai have now been banned until February 29 – causing travel chaos for thousands.
BA’s initial suspension of flights began on Wednesday but had only been in place until Friday while the airline assessed the situation.
Fears over the spread of the flu-like virus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan, prompted it to extend the ban.
Medics head to toe in white protective overalls and gas masks were filmed marching a patient through student university halls in the capital last night
They escorted a woman wearing a surgical face mask out of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) at around 9pm
An ambulance driven by a facemask-wearing medic leaves the airport after picking up suspected coronavirus patients
In an unprecedented move, the Foreign Office on Tuesday advised against ‘all but essential’ travel to mainland China.
Direct BA flights to Hong Kong are not affected.
A spokesman for BA said: ‘The safety of our customers and crew is at the heart of everything we do, and our highly skilled crews are trained to deal with the full range of medical situations which can occur on board.
‘We said sorry to our customers for the delay after landing, this was due to precautionary checks by the Port Health authorities before everyone was cleared to go home.’
Coronavirus fears were heightened today after paramedics around the country were seen whisking patients to hospital – as experts warn a confirmed case is imminent.
Medics head to toe in white protective overalls and gas masks were filmed marching a patient through student university accommodation in the capital last night.
They escorted a woman wearing a surgical face mask out of the halls at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in Holborn at around 9pm.
The coronavirus epidemic currently sweeping the world has killed 170 people and infected more than 8,200. There have been no confirmed cases in the UK but experts say it’s only a matter of time.
Today multiple witnesses saw medics in full quarantine uniform load a man into an ambulance and take him to hospital in York.
The patient, who is believed to be Chinese, had checked into the budget Staycity Hotel yesterday.
A guest in the room – who also hasn’t been identified – is thought to have called a doctor after he became unwell.
Paramedics took him and two guests, who are all understood to be Chinese, from the hotel shortly at 8pm last night.
In Scotland, health bosses are braced for a confirmed coronavirus after the country’s chief medical officer said a positive case was ‘highly likely’ in the coming days.
Everything we know we know about the deadly coronavirus in China: But how worried should we be?
Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
At least 170 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 8,200 have been infected in at least 18 countries and regions. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. Here’s what we know so far:
What is the Wuhan coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started seeing infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 4,500.
Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 133 and cases were in excess of 7,000.
Coronavirus cases TRIPLED in three days
Cases of the deadly coronavirus sweeping the world have tripled within three days, MailOnline can reveal after China warned the killer outbreak will peak in the next 10 days.
World Health Organization figures show just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by Sunday, January 26. This has now risen dramatically to 6,168, with cases in the US, Australia and Canada.
Figures also show there were just 445 cases by Wednesday last week – meaning the outbreak that is continuing to escalate has increased in size by almost 14-fold in the space of seven days.
It means the outbreak in mainland China is now bigger than the 2003 SARS epidemic, when 5,327 cases of the killer virus were confirmed. However, it is still behind the total toll of the outbreak, which infected 8,000 people.
It comes after a renowned scientist at China’s National Health Commission warned the spread of the infection is only going to get worse. Dr Zhong Nanshan admitted he fears the crisis will peak ‘in the next 10 days’.
Where does the virus come from?
Nobody knows for sure. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
Bats are a prime suspect – researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a recent statement: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.’
And another scientific journal article has suggested the virus first infected snakes, which may then have transmitted it to people at the market in Wuhan.
Peking University researchers analysed the genes of the coronavirus and said they most closely matched viruses which are known to affect snakes. They said: ‘Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,’ in the Journal of Medical Virology.
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
CORONAVIRUS COULD SPREAD ON SURFACES, WARNS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Coronavirus could spread on surfaces, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.
There is evidence that the coronavirus ‘can also be spread via fomites – when the virus survives on inanimate surfaces for a short period of time,’ said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a member of the WHO’s emergency committee on the outbreak.
If the possibility becomes a certainty, it’s a worrying revelation for hospital settings, where patients coming to be diagnosed and treated for coronavirus may touch chairs, tables, beds, railings and much more.
WHO officials are careful to note that it’s not yet clear how contagious the new virus is, but its ability to be transferred from surfaces to people could speed its already alarming spread.
Experts estimate that the virus has an incubation between two and 14 days – although a small subset of cases suggest that it may be transmissible even before symptoms begin.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR CORONA VIRUS BEER SURGE
Thousands of adults turning to Google to learn more about the deadly coronavirus spreading from China seem to be getting the infection confused with the Mexican beer Corona Extra.
Searches for both ‘corona beer’ and ‘corona beer virus’ have spiked since the first US cases were confirmed last week.
Over the last week, searches for both terms increased more than 1,100 percent, according to data from Google Trends.
However, it’s likely that the more people have typed ‘corona’, the more Google has auto-completed that search with ‘beer’ or ‘beer virus.’
And to put to rest the question so many have put to Google: No, the deadly virus has nothing to do with a cold brew.
Just five searches for the ‘term ‘corona beer virus’ took place on January 22 compared to at least 100 searches on January 29.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, yesterday said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has so far killed 170 people out of a total of at least 7,100 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed.
HAS THE KILLER CORONAVIRUS REACHED AFRICA?
The killer coronavirus sweeping the world may have reached Africa as Sudan and Equatorial Guinea have reported suspected cases.
Two citizens of Sudan are being monitored after displaying symptoms of the virus following a visit to Wuhan, local reports say.
And officials in Equatorial Guinea have quarantined four travellers who arrived from Beijing amid fears they may have the killer SARS-like infection.
World Health Organization chiefs today said they are ‘concerned’ about any cases in Africa because the continent does not ‘have the capacity’ to handle the virus.
Leading scientists also fear the virus could be difficult to contain in Africa, warning that medical facilities are ‘extremely limited’.
Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.
Can the virus be cured?
The Wuhan coronavirus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak has not officially been confirmed as either an epidemic or a pandemic yet. This is likely because, despite the global concern, the number of people who have been confirmed to be infected is still relatively low.
A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
An epidemic is when a disease takes hold of a smaller community, such as a single country, region or continent.