THE council has admitted it hosted an urgent coronavirus press briefing in a chamber that had been deep cleaned after someone with the virus had been in the same room.

At the press conference in Hove Town Hall on Tuesday, council leaders urged people to wash their hands and take measures to ward against becoming ill.

But after being asked for confirmation by The Argus yesterday, Brighton and Hove City Council admitted the room had been deep cleaned the day before the conference.

The public admission came on Friday, four days after the deep-clean. The council said it had delayed publicly releasing the information “to avoid unnecessary worry”.


A source told the paper council staff were informed someone with coronavirus had visited via an internal message on Thursday, three days after the council learned the news.

The person with the virus is among one of the five confirmed cases in Brighton.

They attended a Clinical Commissioning Group meeting in the council’s headquarters at the town hall last Thursday, and were later found by Public Health England to have contracted the virus.

The council said it had arranged for a deep clean of the chamber on Monday.

The emergency coronavirus press conference took place in the same room the next day.

It was broadcast live and attended by reporters from The Argus, BBC Sussex, Channel 4 news, ITV, Sky News and LBC.

Neither the leader of the council Nancy Platts nor chief executive Geoff Raw mentioned what had happened.

The council confirmed Mr Raw had known in advance of the meeting.

At the press conference they opened their address with advice about hand-washing, and Mr Raw said they had been working with the authorities as a “seamless team” to contain the spread of the virus.

The council has come under fire from politicians, the press, and the public in the past week for not releasing timely information about the spread of the virus.

A council spokesman said: “Public Health England told us someone who came to a training event which took place in the Council Chamber at Hove Town Hall on Thursday, February 6 was later confirmed to have coronavirus.

“This is one of the cases that was announced earlier in the week and is not a new case.

“Public Health England contacted everyone who needed to be given health advice after the event.

“We arranged a deep clean of the chamber on Monday, February 10, as soon as we were told about the situation.

“We were advised that anyone using the chamber after the training event does not need to be contacted by Public Health England, unless there is a different reason for why they may have come into contact with someone with coronavirus. This information has already been shared with staff, councillors and local MPs.

“If you believe you have had contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19) please call NHS 111. See for up to date details.”

The council issued a later statement, saying: “The Chief Executive was made aware of the deep clean on Monday afternoon. Because Public Health England advised us a deep clean wasn’t necessary the information that the clean had taken place was not shared widely at the time to avoid unnecessary worry. The information was shared with all councillors including the leader on Wednesday.”