Emergency Department Worker Tests Positive for COVID-19

Tim Locke

February 12, 2020

Patients and colleagues of a healthcare worker in the A&E (accident and emergency) department at Worthing Hospital in Sussex are being traced after the person tested positive for the new coronavirus, now named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation.

The hospital's Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr George Findlay, said in a statement: "As soon as it was confirmed that a healthcare worker from our A&E department was one of the eight confirmed coronavirus cases, Public Health England immediately began contacting all patients and staff who came into close contact with them. They are now being advised on the precautions they need to take."

The hospital said the healthcare worker treated "a small number of patients on the 4th and 5th February before they became unwell, followed advice and self-isolated".

All services at the hospital, including A&E, are operating normally.

Later on Wednesday, England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, announced a 9th UK case of COVID-19: "This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.  

 

Brighton GP Surgery Closed

The A&E worker was the second healthcare professional to test positive for the virus. The other was a member of staff at the County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton. The surgery was closed for decontamination.

Public Health England Medical Director, Yvonne Doyle, said in a statement on Monday that the four cases announced that day were "all closely linked to one another".

She continued: "Two of these new cases are healthcare workers and as soon as they were identified, we advised them to self-isolate in order to keep patient contact to a minimum. We are now working urgently to identify all patients and other healthcare workers who may have come into close contact, and at this stage we believe this to be a relatively small number."

Getting Worse Before It Gets Better

People brought home to the UK from China on special Foreign Office official flights are being monitored for 14 days in isolation facilities at Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes, and Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirrall.

Yesterday, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave an update to the Commons on the outbreak and the UK's response. "The situation will get worse before it gets better," he said.

"We will be guided by the science. Be in no doubt, we will do everything that is effective to tackle this virus and keep people safe."

He confirmed the special legal powers he'd enacted after declaring the virus a 'serious and imminent threat to public health', they were "to isolate those at risk of spreading the virus, and if necessary to keep them isolated, as part of our belt and braces approach to protecting the public.

"The powers are proportionate and will help us slow down transmission of the virus and make it easier for NHS and public heath staff to do their jobs."

Editor's Note, 13th February 2020: This article was updated to include the latest confirmed UK case.

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