York coronavirus risk 'remains very low', officials say
The risk of infection from two people, who are the UK's first confirmed coronavirus cases, after they fell ill at a York hotel is minimal, say officials.
The two, whose diagnosis was announced on Friday, were taken to hospital from Staycity Aparthotel on Paragon Street.
One of them is a student at the University of York, it later emerged.
Sharon Stoltz, City of York Council's director of health, said: "The risk to people in York remains very low."
It comes as more British nationals were flown home from Wuhan in China, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
The pair who fell ill in York were taken by ambulance to hospital on Wednesday night, with witnesses reporting seeing paramedics in "white quarantine suits".
They are now being treated at a specialist infectious diseases unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Public Health England (PHE) said it was making good progress tracing people who had come into close contact with them.
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Ms Stoltz said it needed to be seen in context and York, which was hosting its annual ice sculpture trial this weekend, remained a safe place for both visitors and residents.
Dr Will Zhuang, president of the York Chinese Association, said he understood the pair had not arrived in York as part of a large tour group, and had only been in contact with one or two other families before falling ill.
The student was not on campus or in student accommodation before or after exposure to the virus, Ms Stoltz added.
- Two people were taken to hospital on Wednesday night after falling ill at the Staycity apartment-hotel in the city
- On Friday, the chief medical officer for England announced the pair - who are related - were being treated for coronavirus
- The patients were initially taken to a hospital in Hull before being transferred to a specialist infectious diseases unit in Newcastle
- Public Health England later said there was minimal risk of infection to either guests or staff at the hotel
- On Saturday, it was revealed one of the two people to test positive is a student at the University of York
- Officials later said the student was not on campus or in student accommodation before or after becoming ill
- Earlier, the University of York tweeted to say the student did not attend a recent graduation ceremony held in the city
More than 240 calls have been made to a dedicated helpline set up by the University of York since it was confirmed one of the ill people was a student there.
The calls have come from staff, students, parents and a small number of members of the public with general concerns asking for information and guidance, a university spokesman said.
Harry Clay, from student newspaper York Vision, said most students were carrying on as normal.
"Obviously, there was a worry initially as you don't know whether or not they have been on campus.
"But, on the whole, students don't seems to be stopping what they are doing," he said.
However, a department store in the city reported selling out of face masks.
John Cooke, store manager of Barnitts, said: "We have completely sold out of our face masks this weekend.
"We are not sure when we will get another delivery but demand for them has been really high."
"People were buying in bulk. The store was really busy," a store assistant added.
Monk Bar Pharmacy in Goodramgate has also sold more than 2,000 face masks, it said.
Some residents in the city have also reported seeing people wearing face masks in York.
Ellen Roberts, who was in Monk Bar Pharmacy said, she noticed a couple of people wearing them on the bus.
Adam Edwards said: "I was out shopping on Friday afternoon and I noticed a young Chinese couple walking down the main street in matching face masks.
"I [also] saw a white man walking around with a blue surgical mask on, which was really striking because it's not the norm around here."
Meanwhile, 11 Britons have arrived at RAF base Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, after taking a French flight to Marseille earlier.
They are going to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral, where 83 others who were evacuated from Wuhan last week are spending two weeks in quarantine.
As of Sunday, a total of 266 UK tests have been carried out on people suspected of having the virus, of which 264 were confirmed as negative and two positive, the Department of Health and Social Care said.