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People in contact with Surrey coronavirus patient being "urgently contacted"

4 minute read
People in contact with Surrey coronavirus patient being "urgently contacted"

Published by Carol Musgrave at 11:01am 1st March 2020. (Updated at 1:35pm 1st March 2020)

People who have been in close contact with a Surrey patient diagnosed with COVID-19 are being traced this weekend and advised about what to do if they start to feel ill.

It follows Friday's report that the case was the first to be contracted in the UK- and that the patient had been transferred to a specialist NHS  centre.

Ruth Hutchinson, SCC's Interim Director of Public Health, has issued an update on the council's website.

She said Public Health England were "urgently contacting anyone that has been in close contact with the individual to provide them with advice about what to do if they start feel unwell, and how to manage if they are told to self-isolate".

She said they are using a "tried and tested method" to reduce any risk to those affected and the wider public.

The statement in full:

"I have spoken to colleagues at Public Health England this morning (29 February) and will remain in continuous contact while we manage the situation in Surrey.

"PHE updated me on their work and steps they have taken since the case was confirmed. They are already urgently contacting anyone that has been in close contact with the individual to provide them with advice about what to do if they start feel unwell, and how to manage if they are told to self-isolate.

"This vital work will continue throughout the weekend and is a tried and tested method that ensures we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.

"Anyone who is not contacted directly by PHE should continue to go about their life as normal but take extra care to follow public health advice on simple steps we can all take to help reduce the risk of infection.

"I appreciate that news like this can be a cause for concern, so I would reassure everyone that Surrey County Council, together with the NHS and PHE is taking every necessary measure to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading."

The council has also issued the following aimed at Surrey residents who might be concerned they are at extra risk:

"We ensure that someone with coronavirus doesn’t put others at risk by treating them in isolation and carefully investigating who they had close contact with through contact tracing.

"Contact tracing is a fundamental part of outbreak control that’s used by public health professionals around the world.

"If a person tests positive for coronavirus, we speak to the patient to identify anyone who has had close contact with them during the time they are considered to be infectious and go all out to find these people as soon as possible.

"Once we have contacted them we can then give them the advice they need. If they are in groups considered to be a higher risk, we make sure that we follow up with them daily to see how they are.  If they become unwell we are then able to assess them quickly and take appropriate action."

Health officials are also continuing to establish how the Surrey patient became the first to catch the illness within the UK.

Haslemere Health Centre was closed on Friday to be cleaned.

It ha since reopened after a deep clean, according to a spokesperson from Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commission Group.

She said it was open yesterday for Improved Access Clinic and will open tomorrow.

South West Surrey MP and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has tweeted that his thoughts are with those affected:

It is not known whether the person caught the virus from someone who had been abroad, or if it was a case of 'community spread'.

Find advice and information on coronavirus from the NHS here and Public Health England here.