First coronavirus cases confirmed in East of England

A picture taken from a coronavirus pod in the Norfolk region. Picture: Chris Bishop

A picture taken from a coronavirus pod in the Norfolk region. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

The first cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the East of England.

Dr Louise Smith said the coronavirus risk for Norfolk was 'very low'. Picture: Norfolk County Counci

Dr Louise Smith said the coronavirus risk for Norfolk was 'very low'. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

As of Thursday, 18,083 people have been tested in the UK, of which 17,968 were confirmed negative and 115 were confirmed as positive.

The figures are broken down by NHS Region with the East of England covering Norfolk and Waveney, Bedfordshire, Luton, Milton Keynes, Hertfordshire, West Essex, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Mid and South Essex, Suffolk and North East Essex.

To date no cases have been confirmed in Norfolk.

MORE: Three more cases of coronavirus in east of England

Other positive cases include 25 cases in London, nine in the Midlands, 10 North East and Yorkshire, North West 17, South East 17, South West 15, with four cases to be determined.

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said 25 patients tested positive this morning of which 17 were diagnosed after recently travelling from a recognised affected area, with the remaining eight contracting the virus in the UK.

In his daily update, Professor Whitty said it remains unclear if the UK cases contracted the virus directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad.

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This week the government announced its "battle plan" to combat the spread of the virus.

Shortly after 5.30pm on Thursday, the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust confirmed the UK's first death due to the virus.

The person was confirmed as an older patient with underlying health conditions has died.

A Royal Berkshire Trust spokesman said: "The patient has previously been in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons, but on this occasion was admitted and last night tested positive for coronavirus.

"The family has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

Read more: Norfolk 'well prepared' for coronavirus outbreak

"We will not be commenting further and ask that everybody respects the family's privacy."

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk County Council, says the council continues to promote national advice from Public Health England and is working with partners through the Norfolk Resilience Forum to deliver key services in the event of issues caused by Covid 19.

The council has also carried out an exercise where around 3,700 members of staff worked remotely.

Dr Smith said: "The exercise worked well and showed that the council is confident it can continue to operate and keep services running.

"Advice to staff on self-isolation and other contingency measures will be updated if and when the situation develops. Remote working is well-established across the council and a recent exercise involving hundreds of staff worked well, showing that our computer and phone systems can cope with the additional demand. These systems also enable people working elsewhere to take part in online meetings."

Read more: Coronavirus: Prime minister outlines UK's battle plan

The key advice is:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water

If you have a cough or sneeze, catch it in a tissue and bin it immediately - and then wash your hands

If you are worried you may have Covid 19, ring the NHS 111 service and take advice.

- Join our Norfolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook group to keep up to date with how the coronavirus is affecting Norfolk.

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