CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect sufferers' lungs and airways.

The UK's chief medical officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate, but the NHS say "the risk to individuals remains low".

There have been nine confirmed cases in the UK including five in the Brighton area - two of whom are healthcare workers. 

These included a person working in the A&E unit of Worthing Hospital.

Doctors have tested 2,521 people, with others advised by Pulic Health England to "self-isolate" if they are believed to have come into contact with the illness.


The virus originated in the Wuhan province of China and has now infected tens of thousands of people in the country.

As of today, the World Health Organisation's director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 1,381 people had died from the virus in China, with 100 more cases reported today.

Outside of China there have been 505 cases in 24 countries, with two deaths.

Because COVID-19 is a new illness, it is not known exactly how it spreads, although the NHS said "similar viruses spread in cough droplets".

A spokesman added: "It's highly unlikely coronavirus can be spread through packages from affected countries or through food."

Hove Labour MP Peter Kyle has been in regular contact with health officials and has relayed information to his constituents.

In a statement on Wednesday, he said: "But here’s the key thing; it’s people, not places, that are at the heart of how coronavirus spreads and it’s not just being in the same general space as someone with the virus that poses a danger because it has to be a very specific kind of contact.

"We know with a high degree of certainty that you need to be in very close proximity of someone with the virus for about 15 minutes or when they sneeze.

"To be specific, droplets of saliva containing the virus need to pass directly from one mouth to another."

Symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath.

An NHS spokesman said: "There is no specific treatment for coronavirus.

"Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the infection."

The authority advised certain people to call NHS 111 to receive advice on what to do.

People should contact this number if:

  • They have been to Wuhan or Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms.
  • They have been to Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if their symptoms are mild.
  • They have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus.

An NHS spokesman added: "Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital. Call 111, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people.

"Tell 111 about any recent travel and any symptoms you have."

The authority also gave advice on how to avoid spreading the virus.

A spokesman said: "Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands, when you cough or sneeze.

"Put used tissues in the bin straight away.

"Wash your hands with soap and water often, using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

"Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell, and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean."