Intended for healthcare professionals


Coronavirus: NHS staff get power to keep patients in isolation as UK declares “serious threat”

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 10 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m550

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  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The UK government has declared that the incidence or transmission of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health.

The announcement means that England’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, can enact regulations to ensure that the public is “protected as far as possible from the transmission of the virus.” This includes designating Arrowe Park Hospital, Merseyside, and the Kents Hill Park hotel and conference centre, Milton Keynes, as isolation facilities.

It also means that NHS staff members have “strengthened powers” to keep patients in isolation if public health professionals believe there to be a “reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.”

As at 10 February eight people in the UK had tested positive for 2019-nCoV. Globally, the virus has spread to 28 countries, with more than 40 000 cases and 900 deaths.

Hancock said, “Clinical advice has not changed about …

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