Coronavirus round-up: what Hertfordshire is doing to prevent an outbreak
PUBLISHED: 19:00 06 March 2020
Steps are being taken to prevent a major coronavirus outbreak in the district.
Three people have tested positive for coronavirus in Hertfordshire, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
All cases had recently travelled from Italy but government officials are yet to confirm the patients' exact location in the county, due to patient confidentiality.
But cases of COVID-19 have already been confirmed at Peartree Spring Primary School in Stevenage, Woolgrove Special Needs Academy in Letchworth and Davenport House surgery in Harpenden.
An announced case at East and North Herts NHS Trust's Mount Vernon Cancer Centre was presumed positive and therefore counted as confirmed on Monday but has since been proved negative.
Jim McManus, director of public health at Herts County Council, said: "These new cases of coronavirus are nothing unexpected. We fully anticipate an increase in numbers which is why our services have planned for, and are ready, for this situation.
"Current evidence indicates that most cases appear to be mild, with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms. Older residents or those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions may experience more severe symptoms, which is why it is important to help protect ourselves and each other."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a COBRA national security meeting on the government's planned response to the virus on Monday and a plan was put forward on Tuesday.
At London Luton Airport, staff are continuing to follow the advice of Public Health England, including cleaning and the provision of hand sanitiser throughout the terminal.
Parts of northern Italy affected by the virus are reached from the airport: easyJet fly to Pisa, Turin, Milan and Venice while Ryanair serves Bologna.
The University of Hertfordshire has said it has enhanced its cleaning regimes in response to coronavirus.
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A spokesperson for the university said: "We are closely monitoring the situation and we are regularly sharing the latest Public Health England information and advice to our students and staff to provide reassurance and support.
"The risk to individuals remains low and the University of Hertfordshire continues to operate as normal.
"We have enhanced our cleaning regimes and additional hand sanitisers and public health information posters have been installed at key areas across the University."
The University of Hertfordshire has over 24,000 students with nearly 4,000 of those coming from outside the European Union and over 6,500 taking courses abroad.
Leisure centres across the district are briefing staff on the virus.
Westminster Lodge general manager Lesley Garner said: "We are advising all members and customers to familiarise themselves with the advice on coronavirus by placing awareness notices in the reception and changing areas of our facilities. These include information on how individuals can prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"To further encourage people to follow this advice we have installed additional hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the centre and have stocked up further supplies of Viral Plus hand gel and multi-purpose wipes."
They are also asking colleagues to contact 111 or self-isolate if they have been to any of the affected high-risk countries.
St Albans and Harpenden Patients' Group has also issued information and advice about the virus.
Chair John Wigley said: "Its symptoms are a cough, a high temperature and being short of breath. It is spread when infected people cough and sneeze, expelling droplets which land on nearby people and surfaces.
"The vast majority of infected people recover. The most vulnerable are the elderly and those with existing serious medical conditions, such as cancer and heart disease."
Public Health England and the NHS have advised on several basic ways to stop coronavirus spreading from person to person.
Full information is available from Public Health England Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response - GOV.UK and from the NHS http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronvirus-covid-19
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