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NHS staff are briefed on how to handle dead bodies infected with coronavirus

NHS staff have been briefed on how to handle dead bodies infected with the deadly Chinese coronavirus after it spread to Europe.

The dossier published by Public Health England warns that the virus – which has reached three locations across France – is ‘accelerating’ and tells GPs to avoid contact with suspected victims.

PHE’s document obtained by The Sunday Times advises: ‘The act of moving a recently deceased patient onto a hospital trolley for transportation to the mortuary might be sufficient to expel small amounts of air from the lungs and thereby present a minor risk.

‘A body bag should be used for transferring the body and those handling the body at this point should use full PPE [personal protective equipment].’

Passengers arriving at Heathrow airport wearing face masks. So far 31 people have been tested in the UK but all results have come back negative

Two further cases were confirmed in France on Friday night, the first European cases of the deadly virus, just across the English Channel

Two further cases were confirmed in France on Friday night, the first European cases of the deadly virus, just across the English Channel

Furthermore, medics meeting any suspected infected people should wear ‘full-face visors,’ while GPs should keep them in sealed rooms.

‘In the absence of effective drugs or a vaccine, control of this disease relies on the prompt identification, appropriate risk assessment, management and isolation of possible cases,’ the document adds.

As of yesterday afternoon, 31 people across Britain had been screened, with all tests coming back negative. 

Workers from local disease control and prevention department in protective suits disinfect a residential area following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, in Ruichang, Jiangxi province

Workers from local disease control and prevention department in protective suits disinfect a residential area following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, in Ruichang, Jiangxi province

Medical staff attending to patients, in Wuhan, China, at the city's central hospital on Saturday

Medical staff attending to patients, in Wuhan, China, at the city’s central hospital on Saturday

It comes as the Foreign Office last night prepared a charter flight for around 200 British citizens and diplomats trapped in Wuhan, where 11million are on lock-down.     

Meanwhile, health officials are continuing to track down around 2,000 people who have recently flown into the UK from Wuhan.

The Department of Health confirmed it is trying to find ‘as many passengers as we can’ who arrived from the region in the past two weeks to check on their wellbeing.

A patient is treated for coronavirus in Wuhan Red Cross Hospital today. Sufferers have reportedly collapsed in the street due to the infection

A patient is treated for coronavirus in Wuhan Red Cross Hospital today. Sufferers have reportedly collapsed in the street due to the infection

China's government has faced criticism for censoring the number infected. Pictured above is the Wuhan Huanan South China seafood market where it is believed coronavirus may have made the jump to humans

China’s government has faced criticism for censoring the number infected. Pictured above is the Wuhan Huanan South China seafood market where it is believed coronavirus may have made the jump to humans

Passengers arriving at Heathrow airport wearing face masks. So far 31 people have been tested in the UK but all results have come back negative

Passengers arriving at Heathrow airport wearing face masks. So far 31 people have been tested in the UK but all results have come back negative

It is understood Border Force officers have been recruited to help speed up the search for passengers as testing for the virus continues in the UK.

One British man who had travelled to Wuhan to visit his girlfriend is stuck in the city after his return flight on February 3 was cancelled, and he described trying to get out of the area as ‘impossible’.

The 29-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: ‘There have been sporadic warnings from local government in Chinese to tell us that there will be road closures.

‘There is no news on when the airport will re-open therefore the airline (China Southern) have just cancelled the flight.

‘I’ve also had no help from the UK Embassy in Beijing who are conveniently closed for the weekend.’

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said there is a ‘fair chance’ cases will emerge in Britain as the overall number reported around the world climbed to more than 1,200, including 41 deaths – all in China.

The professor spoke following a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee in Whitehall on Friday, chaired by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

In this Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker attends to a patient in the intensive care unit at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province

In this Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker attends to a patient in the intensive care unit at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province

He said: ‘I am working closely with the other UK chief medical officers.

‘We all agree that the risk to the UK public remains low, but there may well be cases in the UK at some stage.’

He added: ‘The UK has access to some of the best infectious disease and public health experts in the world.

‘A public health hub will be set up in Heathrow from today. This consists of clinicians and other public health officials, in addition to existing port health measures.’

In an interview, Prof Whitty said: ‘We think there’s a fair chance we may get some cases over time.

‘Of course this depends on whether this continues for a long time, or whether this turns out to be something which is brought under control relatively quickly.’

He added: ‘I think we should definitely see this as a marathon, not a sprint, we need to have our entire response based on that principle.

‘At the minute it definitely looks like this is a lot less dangerous if you get it than Ebola, and a lot less dangerous than the recent coronavirus MERS, and it’s probably less dangerous if you get it than SARS virus.

‘What we don’t know is how far it’s going to spread, that really is something we need to plan for all eventualities.’ 

Cities across the United States and Canada are on high alert amid the escalating coronavirus crisis as 63 people in 22 states are suspected to have contracted the deadly strain. The map above shows confirmed and suspected cases in the US and Canada

Cities across the United States and Canada are on high alert amid the escalating coronavirus crisis as 63 people in 22 states are suspected to have contracted the deadly strain. The map above shows confirmed and suspected cases in the US and Canada

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