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Coronavirus in Westminster: Infected patient went to bus conference

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One of Britain’s nine confirmed coronavirus cases attended a Westminster bus conference just a stone’s throw from Parliament, it was revealed today.

The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6, whose star speaker was Boris Johnson‘s Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton. 

MailOnline understands the coronavirus patient who attended the conference was not the most recent case – a Chinese woman who took an Uber to A&E at Lewisham Hospital in south London on Sunday night.  

The patient’s presence in central London at a packed conference will spark fears among the hundreds of people there from the transport industry amid growing public anxiety about the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Doctors have warned London’s status as a transport hub could exacerbate the spread of the highly contagious illness which can survive on door knobs and train handrails for hours and spreads via people’s breath.

The summit’s speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station.

Also in attendance were David Brown, chief executive of bus company Go-Ahead, Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood and Gareth Powell, head of Transport for London’s bus network.

Last night it emerged that more than 750 British patients were tested for coronavirus in one day as panic over the outbreak intensified across the country. Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus and nearly 1,400 have died. 

Other developments in the coronavirus outbreak today include:

  • China reported another spike in deaths and cases yesterday with 121 succumbing to the virus and 5,090 people catching it  
  • The family of eight-month-old James Adlam, from Worthing, West Sussex, will find out today if the toddler has coronavirus 
  • More than 1,700 frontline medics were infected with coronavirus in Wuhan yesterday as health bosses grapple with shortage of masks and protective gear
  • Top scientists have ruled out the coronavirus was engineered, dispelling rumours the virus had escaped from a lab
  • Passengers on a cruise ship denied entry to five different countries have been allowed to disembark in Cambodia
  • Dentists in the UK are set to run out of face masks by next week because panic buying from manufacturers in China   
  • The Church of England will incorporate precautions at services to reduce the risk of infection – including refraining from shaking hands and sharing food and drink
The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6 (Boris Johnson 's Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton speaks at the summit)

The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6 (Boris Johnson 's Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton speaks at the summit)

The virus-carrier was reportedly one of 250 delegates at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre on February 6 (Boris Johnson ‘s Buses Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton speaks at the summit)

The conference was held just yards from Parliament and was attended by David Brown, chief executive of bus company Go-Ahead, Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood and Gareth Powell, head of Transport for London's bus network

The conference was held just yards from Parliament and was attended by David Brown, chief executive of bus company Go-Ahead, Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood and Gareth Powell, head of Transport for London's bus network

The conference was held just yards from Parliament and was attended by David Brown, chief executive of bus company Go-Ahead, Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood and Gareth Powell, head of Transport for London’s bus network

The summit's speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station

The summit's speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station

The summit’s speakers included Baroness Vere, who posed with an all-electric bus outside the QEII Centre, which is around 100 yards from Westminster Underground Station

London has been on red alert for more coronavirus cases after the capital’s first confirmed patient took herself to A&E in an Uber on Sunday and walked into a public area of Lewisham Hospital – going against strict advice to stay at home and ring NHS 111. 

Two healthcare workers who came into contact with the Chinese woman at the hospital have been told to self-isolate and the taxi driver’s account has been temporarily suspended.

Another SPIKE in coronavirus cases in China 

China has reported another sharp rise in the number of people infected with the killer coronavirus, with the death toll now nearing 1,400. 

The National Health Commission said 121 more deaths were recorded yesterday, as well as 5,090 new confirmed cases.

The number of reported cases has been rising more quickly after the hardest-hit province changed its method of counting them. 

There are now almost 64,000 confirmed cases in mainland China, of which 1,380 have died, according to the national body.

Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician’s diagnosis and before they have been confirmed by lab tests.  

The acceleration in the number of cases does not necessarily represent a sudden surge in new infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The woman, who contracted coronavirus in China, ‘self-presented’ at Lewisham Hospital before being sent home to await the results of tests.  

She was rushed to St Thomas’s on Wednesday after her test results returned positive. She is believed to live with family in London and thought to be in her late 20s or early 30s.

All attendees at the UK Bus Summit have been emailed warning them that someone at the summit had the killer disease, according to the Financial Times.

Attached was a letter from Public Health England (PHE) telling anyone who develops flu-like symptoms to self-isolate at home and call the NHS’ 111 helpline. 

The email said: ‘While the degree of contact you may have had with the case at the summit is unlikely to have been significant, we are taking a precautionary approach and informing you.’

Official advice from PHE states that anyone who suspects they have coronavirus should stay at home, call NHS 111 and await transport to the nearest hospital assessment pod.

The Chinese patient was the first case in London and doctors are worried that the disease’s emergence in the capital will lead to it spreading quickly.

The latest coronavirus patient went to A&E in Lewisham in an Uber. When it was revealed she might be infected with the illness, an ambulance was called to take her home after tests

The latest coronavirus patient went to A&E in Lewisham in an Uber. When it was revealed she might be infected with the illness, an ambulance was called to take her home after tests

The latest coronavirus patient went to A&E in Lewisham in an Uber. When it was revealed she might be infected with the illness, an ambulance was called to take her home after tests

Nearly 1,400 patients have been killed by coronavirus since the outbreak began in Wuhan

Nearly 1,400 patients have been killed by coronavirus since the outbreak began in Wuhan

Nearly 1,400 patients have been killed by coronavirus since the outbreak began in Wuhan

Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus after China reported 5,000 new cases yesterday

Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus after China reported 5,000 new cases yesterday

Almost 65,000 patients around the world have now caught the virus after China reported 5,000 new cases yesterday

CofE issues advice to reduce coronavirus risk

In new guidance issued on Thursday, the Church of England said current Government advice did not suggest that the sharing of a ‘common cup’ during Holy Communion services should be suspended. 

‘Long-standing government advice has been that ‘In a pandemic, it makes good sense to take precautions to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink.’ 

COVID-19 has NOT been declared a pandemic,’ the guidance published on the church website said. 

It said parishioners with ‘coughs and sneezes’ should already be encouraged to receive Communion in ‘one kind only’ and ‘to refrain from handshaking during The Peace’. 

An integral part of Christian worship, Holy Communion, also known as the Eucharist, involves worshippers receiving consecrated bread and wine in memory of the Last Supper taken by Jesus and his disciples. 

During communion services, congregations also observe ‘the peace’, a pause in proceedings where people typically shake hands with those around them. 

In its new guidance, the church said: ‘It is also best practice for churches to have hand-sanitisers available for parishioners to use. 

Doctors warned the London Underground could be a hotbed for the virus, which can survive on handrails for hours and spreads via people’s breath.  

Dr Robin Thompson, an expert in mathematical epidemiology at Oxford University, said: ‘In general, if an initial case is in a densely populated area, then the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission following is higher. This is exacerbated by the fact that London is a transport hub, and the Underground could provide a network to spread the virus quickly.’

Yesterday morning paramedics in hazmat suits turned up to a flat in Paddington, central London, after a patient reported symptoms. Video footage shows a man in a black hoodie walking into an ambulance at 9.45am with two staff members in full body gowns.

One of the medics was said to have told bystanders there was ‘a confirmed case in the building’ and asked if people could refrain from taking pictures.

Elsewhere, two GP surgeries were closed after patients with suspicious symptoms turned up unannounced.

The Ritchie Street Health Centre in Islington, north London, posted a message on its website stating it would be closed until today ‘due to the coronavirus’. 

However it has emerged that no patients or staff at the practice have tested positive for the virus – and it remains unclear why management took the decision to shut. 

NHS officials say the move may have been precautionary after a patient was tested for the virus after turning up at the practice with symptoms. 

Paramedics in hazmat suits march into a flat in central London hours after the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the capital

Paramedics in hazmat suits march into a flat in central London hours after the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the capital

Paramedics in hazmat suits march into a flat in central London hours after the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in the capital

Two medics in full protective gowns, gloves and face masks got out of an ambulance and carried heavy-duty rucksacks into a block of flats in Paddington at 9.45am and brought a man in a black hood out with them

Two medics in full protective gowns, gloves and face masks got out of an ambulance and carried heavy-duty rucksacks into a block of flats in Paddington at 9.45am and brought a man in a black hood out with them

Two medics in full protective gowns, gloves and face masks got out of an ambulance and carried heavy-duty rucksacks into a block of flats in Paddington at 9.45am and brought a man in a black hood out with them

Mum of UK’s youngest suspected coronavirus victim says she’s terrified she’ll lose him

Eight-month-old James Adlam has ‘all the symptoms’ associated with the virus, including a boiling temperature, coughing fits, runny nose and extreme fatigue, according to his mother Stephanie Adlam. 

She says her terrified family say they are living ‘in hell’ because James’ four-year-old sister may also have been exposed.

James, who has blood defect haemophilia and a long-term lung condition, is now in isolation at home.  

He was treated for a leg injury by a doctor who was later confirmed to have the virus.

The family are now anxiously waiting test results to find out if the boy has the illness. 

The Ferns Medical Practice in Farnham, Surrey, said that it was undertaking a deep clean after a patient had come in after visiting ‘one of the affected coronavirus areas’.

Some 2,512 people in Britain have been tested since last month. Patients with suspected coronavirus have swabs taken of their nose and throat which are sent to one of 12 labs across the UK.

Results usually come back within 48 hours – although they can be turned around in 24 hours – and the NHS can test a maximum of 1,000 patients in a day.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said officials were hoping to delay the spread of the coronavirus in this country until the summer.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Delay is the next stage of what we need to do because if we are going to get an outbreak in the UK – this is an if, not a when – but if we do, putting it back in time into the summer period, away from winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better… is a big advantage.’

He added that while it was ‘highly likely’ the UK would see more cases, the disease could be ‘dampened’ as the weather got warmer.

The head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, said that to contain the spread many more patients would need to self-isolate at home if they had suspicious symptoms.

Praising the coronavirus evacuees who left the Wirral yesterday after 14 days of isolation, he said the Arrowe Park Hospital ‘guests’ had ‘set an important example, recognising that over the coming weeks many more of us may need to self-isolate at home for a period to reduce this virus’s spread’.

A cabin is being used as an isolation pod at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester

A cabin is being used as an isolation pod at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester

A cabin is being used as an isolation pod at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester 

At Eastbourne District General Hospital, windowless shipping containers at the side of what appears to be a road in the hospital grounds are used

At Eastbourne District General Hospital, windowless shipping containers at the side of what appears to be a road in the hospital grounds are used

At Eastbourne District General Hospital, windowless shipping containers at the side of what appears to be a road in the hospital grounds are used

Passengers on a cruise ship denied entry to five different countries have been allowed to disembark in Cambodia

Passengers on a cruise ship that was turned away from ports around Asia over fears they could be carrying the new coronavirus finally began disembarking in Cambodia on Friday.

Cambodia’s strongman premier Hun Sen welcomed around 100 tourists who were handed flowers and scarves as they stepped ashore after an uncertain two weeks at sea.

The Westerdam was supposed to be taking its 2,257 passengers and crew on a 14-day cruise around east Asia, beginning in Hong Kong on February 1 and ending on Saturday in Yokohama, Japan.

But the vessel was barred by Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand over fears it was carrying someone with a new virus that has now killed around 1,400 people and sickened 64,000, mostly in China.

Cambodia – a staunch Beijing ally that receives huge sums of Chinese money every year – announced this week that the boat could dock in Sihanoukville.

Dozens of jubilant passengers took advantage of their new-found freedom and visited a nearby beach, while some hugged Hun Sen – Cambodia’s ruler for 35 years – as they disembarked. One man even kissed the ground.

‘Cambodia pays more attention to human rights… we respect the rights of the more than 2,000 people on the boat,’ Hun Sen said, relishing the rare positive focus on a leadership more commonly hammered for rights abuses.

‘We don’t have wealth like a rich country but we have sympathy for the passengers stranded on the ship.’

All passengers will be allowed to disembark, Hun Sen said, after no cases of the coronavirus were found aboard.

 

The developments come as a parents of a baby in Brighton fear he may have the coronavirus after he was treated by one of the infected GPs in the city. 

At least two doctors in Brighton are known to have caught the bug while on holiday with ‘super-spreader’ businessman, Steve Walsh, who caught it in Singapore.

The eight-month-old has ‘all the symptoms’ associated with the virus, including a boiling temperature, coughing fits, runny nose and extreme fatigue, according to his mother Stephanie Adlam. 

She says her terrified family say they are living ‘in hell’ because James’ four-year-old sister may also have been exposed.

James, who has blood defect haemophilia and a long-term lung condition, is now in isolation at home. 

The family were taken to Worthing A&E by paramedics in full hazmat suits on Wednesday for tests. They are anxiously waiting the results which come back today. 

The boy’s father said: ‘My little boy has haemophilia and a lung condition, so he’s already poorly. 

‘My ex-partner took him in to get checked out last Tuesday. We took him back yesterday morning, and as we arrived home at about 1pm we got a call from Worthing A&E.

‘They said both my son and his mum had been in direct contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, and told us to stay at home.’

He said both his children have ‘flu-like symptoms, everything associated with the virus’. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that the coronavirus outbreak is a ‘serious and imminent’ threat to the British public. 

Makeshift coronavirus isolation ‘pods’ have emerged at hospitals across England as the country is on high alert for new cases of the illness. 

The NHS has ordered all hospitals to set up the isolation booths so they can send people there if they are suspected to have SARS-CoV-2.

Pictures show rusty portable cabins and windowless shipping containers being used for the purpose on the grounds outside of hospitals’ main buildings or in car parks. 

A crane delivers a cabin to University Hospital of North Tees, where it will be used as a coronavirus isolation pod

A crane delivers a cabin to University Hospital of North Tees, where it will be used as a coronavirus isolation pod

A crane delivers a cabin to University Hospital of North Tees, where it will be used as a coronavirus isolation pod

A contamination tent being set up outside A&E at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington a stone's throw from the Lindo Wing where all of Prince William and Kate Middleton's children were born

A contamination tent being set up outside A&E at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington a stone's throw from the Lindo Wing where all of Prince William and Kate Middleton's children were born

A contamination tent being set up outside A&E at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington a stone’s throw from the Lindo Wing where all of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s children were born

Blackpool Victoria Hospital has attached a sign to a permanent building, indicating that suspected coronavirus patients should go there

Blackpool Victoria Hospital has attached a sign to a permanent building, indicating that suspected coronavirus patients should go there

Blackpool Victoria Hospital has attached a sign to a permanent building, indicating that suspected coronavirus patients should go there

WHERE HAS THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD TO?

COUNTRIES  

CHINA

JAPAN

SINGAPORE

HONG KONG

THAILAND

SOUTH KOREA

MALAYSIA

TAIWAN

VIETNAM

GERMANY

AUSTRALIA

US

FRANCE

MACAU

UK

UAE

CANADA

INDIA

PHILIPPINES

ITALY

RUSSIA

SPAIN

BELGIUM

SWEDEN

FINLAND

NEPAL

SRI LANKA

CAMBODIA

WORLD TOTAL

CASES

63,855

251

58

53

33

28

19

18

16

16

15

15

11

10

9

8

7

3

3

3

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

60,394 

 

Health service bosses said there must be facilities in place to keep suspected patients away from the general public while they’re assessed over the phone by medics. 

Hospitals in London, Hartlepool, Stevenage, Preston, Blackpool, Eastbourne, Brighton and Bournemouth have been seen with the pods outside. 

A letter sent from NHS England to hospital directors two weeks ago instructed them all to have the pods up and running by Friday, February 7.

It said: ‘As part of managing care in Emergency Departments, trusts are being asked to organise a ‘Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod’, which will mean people with symptoms indicative of infection will get quick assessment, while other patients also continue to get appropriate care.’

The letter said the pod must have a phone which is available 24 hours a day so worried patients can speak to a specialist response team at any time.

There must also be clear signs and posters directing people the the pod so they don’t have to come into contact with staff – people will not be allowed to just wander into the pods but must be referred there first.

Overnight, China reported another sharp rise in the number of people infected with the killer disease. 

The National Health Commission said 121 more deaths were recorded yesterday, as well as 5,090 new confirmed cases.

The number of reported cases has been rising more quickly after the hardest-hit province changed its method of counting them. 

There are now almost 64,000 confirmed cases in mainland China, of which 1,380 have died, according to the national body.

Hubei province is now including cases based on a physician’s diagnosis and before they have been confirmed by lab tests.  

The acceleration in the number of cases does not necessarily represent a sudden surge in new infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, said: ‘I suspect but can’t be certain that the underlying trend is still downwards.

‘It almost certainly does not mean that there has been a resurgence of the epidemic overnight.’

Medical workers check on the conditions of patients in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan on Thursday

Medical workers check on the conditions of patients in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan on Thursday

Medical workers check on the conditions of patients in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan on Thursday

Chinese military medics arrive at the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province on Thursday

Chinese military medics arrive at the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province on Thursday

Chinese military medics arrive at the Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province on Thursday

The sharp rises is thought to have been caused by a change in the way doctors in Hubei – the province at the centre of the outbreak – are diagnosing the virus.

Officials decided that people who have virus symptoms, plus a CT scan showing chest infection, are now being counted as confirmed cases.

Cases were previously only being confirmed using specialized testing kits in a laboratory.

But authorities have had to switch to the broader diagnostic tools because they are running out of the kits and hundreds of patients are going untested. 

It raises the prospect that deaths and infections could have been much higher if medics were using this method all along. 

And it could mean that going forward, more cases will be reported every day in the Chinese province.  

The official death toll now sits at 1,380 after China reported 121 new patients had been killed by the virus overnight.

This sparked confusion as it was reported on Thursday that 1,370 people succumbed to the illness.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE DEADLY CORONAVIRUS IN CHINA?

Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

More than 1,380 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 64,400 have been infected in at least 28 countries and regions. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases.  Here’s what we know so far:

What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals. 

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses). 

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’ 

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.

By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. 

A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat. 

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent similar to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’  

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.  

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. 

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world. 

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.   

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.   

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has so far killed 1,383 people out of a total of at least 64,441 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to that date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed, but also far more widespread. 

Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.  

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?   

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region. 

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.

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Cat owners are styling their pets’ mane with crazy haircuts that make them look like dragons

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While some people are using their time in lockdown to give themselves DIY haircuts, others are more focused on making sure their pets are elaborately groomed. 

Cat owners from around the world have been showing off pictures online of their felines with a ‘dragoncut’ – or ‘dinocut’ as it’s also known – where their fur is shaved to give the illusion of spikes down their back. 

Some have taken the dragon look a step further by dyeing their pet’s fur a vivid shade of green, and the look appears to be particularly popular for cats that have grumpy expressions to match their fierce beast.  

A bizarre trend sees cat owners buzzing the mane of their beloved pet to have them resemble dragons (pictured: a cat dyed green and subjected to the bizarre haircut)

A bizarre trend sees cat owners buzzing the mane of their beloved pet to have them resemble dragons (pictured: a cat dyed green and subjected to the bizarre haircut)

A bizarre trend sees cat owners buzzing the mane of their beloved pet to have them resemble dragons (pictured: a cat dyed green and subjected to the bizarre haircut)

The 'dragoncut' - or 'dinocut' as it's also known - is a grooming style that sees felines turn into dinosaurs or dragons (pictured)

The 'dragoncut' - or 'dinocut' as it's also known - is a grooming style that sees felines turn into dinosaurs or dragons (pictured)

The ‘dragoncut’ – or ‘dinocut’ as it’s also known – is a grooming style that sees felines turn into dinosaurs or dragons (pictured)

The haircut consists in shaving off some of the hair on the sides, and cutting the top of the mane in triangles (pictured)

The haircut consists in shaving off some of the hair on the sides, and cutting the top of the mane in triangles (pictured)

The haircut consists in shaving off some of the hair on the sides, and cutting the top of the mane in triangles (pictured)

This cat looks like it's ready to spit fire after getting the unusual haircut from their owner (pictured)

This cat looks like it's ready to spit fire after getting the unusual haircut from their owner (pictured)

This cat looks like it’s ready to spit fire after getting the unusual haircut from their owner (pictured)

While it seems some owners can't get enough of the hairstyle trend, the cats seem to have different opinions (pictured)

While it seems some owners can't get enough of the hairstyle trend, the cats seem to have different opinions (pictured)

While it seems some owners can’t get enough of the hairstyle trend, the cats seem to have different opinions (pictured)

The felines don't seem to impressed with their new looks after going under the buzzer (pictured)

The felines don't seem to impressed with their new looks after going under the buzzer (pictured)

The felines don’t seem to impressed with their new looks after going under the buzzer (pictured)

Some owners have boasted about their creative chops online, but their cats would not say they agree (pictured)

Some owners have boasted about their creative chops online, but their cats would not say they agree (pictured)

Some owners have boasted about their creative chops online, but their cats would not say they agree (pictured)

In some instances, the mane is cut in squares rather than triangle at the top of the cat's back (pictured)

In some instances, the mane is cut in squares rather than triangle at the top of the cat's back (pictured)

In some instances, the mane is cut in squares rather than triangle at the top of the cat’s back (pictured)

The tails of the cats are also styled to match the rest of their mane to complete the look (pictured)

The tails of the cats are also styled to match the rest of their mane to complete the look (pictured)

The tails of the cats are also styled to match the rest of their mane to complete the look (pictured)

The most dedicated owners even used pet-friendly dyes in order to colour their pet's hair (pictured)

The most dedicated owners even used pet-friendly dyes in order to colour their pet's hair (pictured)

The most dedicated owners even used pet-friendly dyes in order to colour their pet’s hair (pictured)

Thankfully, the cut does not hurt, and all the cats can do is nap it out until their beautiful hair grows back (pictured)

Thankfully, the cut does not hurt, and all the cats can do is nap it out until their beautiful hair grows back (pictured)

Thankfully, the cut does not hurt, and all the cats can do is nap it out until their beautiful hair grows back (pictured)

The head of the animal is usually left alone. Some owners left some fluff on their pets' tails (pictured)

The head of the animal is usually left alone. Some owners left some fluff on their pets' tails (pictured)

The head of the animal is usually left alone. Some owners left some fluff on their pets’ tails (pictured)

While the side and front of the cat are sometimes completely buzzed, some owners left their hair intact on their legs and paws (pictured)

While the side and front of the cat are sometimes completely buzzed, some owners left their hair intact on their legs and paws (pictured)

While the side and front of the cat are sometimes completely buzzed, some owners left their hair intact on their legs and paws (pictured)

Owners also shave the length of the hair, leaving the paws alone, to make it look like a cat is wearing slippers (pictured)

Owners also shave the length of the hair, leaving the paws alone, to make it look like a cat is wearing slippers (pictured)

Owners also shave the length of the hair, leaving the paws alone, to make it look like a cat is wearing slippers (pictured)

Most of the cats did not seem to share their owners' creative sensibilities after their haircuts (pictured)

Most of the cats did not seem to share their owners' creative sensibilities after their haircuts (pictured)

Most of the cats did not seem to share their owners’ creative sensibilities after their haircuts (pictured)

The hair of this cat created an optical illusion when his owners thinly cut his mane (pictured)

The hair of this cat created an optical illusion when his owners thinly cut his mane (pictured)

The hair of this cat created an optical illusion when his owners thinly cut his mane (pictured)   

This unimpressed kitty looked for comfort in the family's fridge after he received his haircut (pictured)

This unimpressed kitty looked for comfort in the family's fridge after he received his haircut (pictured)

This unimpressed kitty looked for comfort in the family’s fridge after he received his haircut (pictured)

The trend has been blossoming online in recent years, with many proud owners sharing pictures of their pets (pictured)

The trend has been blossoming online in recent years, with many proud owners sharing pictures of their pets (pictured)

The trend has been blossoming online in recent years, with many proud owners sharing pictures of their pets (pictured)

These owners used blue dye on the top of their cat's hair to give the haircut even more of an edge (pictured)

These owners used blue dye on the top of their cat's hair to give the haircut even more of an edge (pictured)

These owners used blue dye on the top of their cat’s hair to give the haircut even more of an edge (pictured)

This dragfon-cat seemed to wonder why the family's other feline friend did not get the same haircut (pictured)

This dragfon-cat seemed to wonder why the family's other feline friend did not get the same haircut (pictured)

This dragfon-cat seemed to wonder why the family’s other feline friend did not get the same haircut (pictured)

A groomer showed their precise work, which each square on top of this cat being styled with careful measurements (pictured(

A groomer showed their precise work, which each square on top of this cat being styled with careful measurements (pictured(

A groomer showed their precise work, which each square on top of this cat being styled with careful measurements (pictured(

This feline looked particularly displeased with their owner's musing after their hair transformation (pictured)

This feline looked particularly displeased with their owner's musing after their hair transformation (pictured)

This feline looked particularly displeased with their owner’s musing after their hair transformation (pictured)

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Coronavirus UK: Family found dead in lockdown murder-suicide

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A family of four including two adults and two girls aged just three and five have been found dead along with their pet dog at home in a picturesque West Sussex village.

The £500,000 property in Woodmancote was home to builder Robert Needham, 42, his mother Maureen, 77, his partner Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and their two children Ava, five, and Lexi, three. Mr Needham, Ms Fitzgibbons and the girls were all found dead.

It came just two days after Ms Fitzgibbons posted a series of photos on Facebook of her family out in the countryside last Friday under the heading ‘our walk for the day’. 

Maureen Needham, at a location away from the home at the time of the deaths, said on Facebook today: ‘It was Robert, Kelly and my lovely grandchildren that all died upstairs.’  She wrote this under a picture of the family posted online last Wednesday.

Sussex Police went to the three-bedroom home at 6.45pm on Sunday after receiving a call raising a welfare concern for the residents. All four were pronounced dead at the scene, along with the dog, which was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Bill. 

Detectives launched a murder probe, amid suspicions over a possible murder-suicide. Officers confirmed they are not seeking anyone else in connection with it.

Mr Needham owned a company called Needham Building Services which specialised in domestic construction, but this was dissolved last October. Since then he had been building an extension for his family after moving back into his mother’s home.

The killing death toll during the coronavirus lockdown which began last Monday is now at nine, after three other incidents in Wales, Hertfordshire and South Yorkshire.

The Sussex murders were the latest in a string of cases at the weekend at the end of Britain’s first week on lockdown, following concerns raised when the measures were imposed of a possible increase in domestic violence and mental health issues. 

The other cases saw:   

  • Former Asda worker Ruth Williams found unconscious at home in Cwmbran, South Wales, at 7am on Saturday before dying in hospital – and her husband Tony Williams later charged with murder; 
  • NHS nurse and mother-of-three Victoria Woodhall, who worked at Rotherham General Hospital, killed in the street in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, at 5pm on Sunday – and her husband Craig Woodhall also later charged with murder;
  • Police investigating after the ‘suspicious’ deaths of Gary Walker, 57, his wife Caroline, 50, and their daughter Katie, 24, who were found dead after a fire tore through their home in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, on Sunday at 12.30pm. 

In West Sussex, Douglas Meany, 70, a retired neighbour of the Needham family, said today: ‘I’ve known the family a very long time. We got on well as neighbours. 

‘As far as I know they were a fairly close-knit family, just normal, but not in each other’s pockets. For a while the house was used as a care home which the family ran.

‘Previous to that Maureen and her husband used to run a village shop. On Sunday I was alerted to the fact there was a lot of activity in the lane outside. I saw two paramedic vehicles, unmarked police cars in the lane as well as marked.  

Robert Needham, 42, his partner Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and their two children Ava, five, and Lexi, three, died in a house in Woodmancote, West Sussex, in a suspected murder suicide

Robert Needham, 42, his partner Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and their two children Ava, five, and Lexi, three, died in a house in Woodmancote, West Sussex, in a suspected murder suicide

Robert Needham, 42, his partner Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and their two children Ava, five, and Lexi, three, died in a house in Woodmancote, West Sussex, in a suspected murder suicide

The deaths came just two days after Ms Fitzgibbons posted a series of pictures on Facebook of her family out in the countryside last Friday under the heading 'our walk for the day'

The deaths came just two days after Ms Fitzgibbons posted a series of pictures on Facebook of her family out in the countryside last Friday under the heading 'our walk for the day'

The deaths came just two days after Ms Fitzgibbons posted a series of pictures on Facebook of her family out in the countryside last Friday under the heading ‘our walk for the day’

A photograph Ms Fitzgibbons posted on Friday - two days before the family were found dead

A photograph Ms Fitzgibbons posted on Friday - two days before the family were found dead

A photograph Ms Fitzgibbons posted on Friday – two days before the family were found dead

'Lovely grandchildren' Ava and Lily (pictured) were found murdered in an upstairs room and their parents, named as Robert and Kelly, were also found dead

'Lovely grandchildren' Ava and Lily (pictured) were found murdered in an upstairs room and their parents, named as Robert and Kelly, were also found dead

‘Lovely grandchildren’ Ava and Lily (pictured) were found murdered in an upstairs room and their parents, named as Robert and Kelly, were also found dead

A blue police evidence tent sits in front of a house this morning (centre) in Woodmancote, West Sussex, after the bodies of two adults and two children were found there on Sunday

A blue police evidence tent sits in front of a house this morning (centre) in Woodmancote, West Sussex, after the bodies of two adults and two children were found there on Sunday

A blue police evidence tent sits in front of a house this morning (centre) in Woodmancote, West Sussex, after the bodies of two adults and two children were found there on Sunday

Maureen Needham, 77, who was at another location away from the home in West Sussex at the time, said on Facebook: ‘It was Robert, Kelly and my lovely grandchildren that all died upstairs’. She wrote the comment under a picture of the family posted online last Wednesday

‘That carried on right through the night, comings and goings, and forensics seemed to arrive at around midnight. At first we didn’t know who or what was involved, but because of the activity it was obviously important. 

‘As there was more police and paramedics involved, we knew that somebody was in trouble, then it came to light that there may have been fatalities and there might have been more than one.’

It comes as health officials said 1,789 people who have tested positive for the virus in Britain have now died as of 5pm yesterday, up 381 from 1,408 the day before.

In West Sussex, Mr Meany added of the four deaths: ‘We were naturally very surprised, it would take a lot for somebody to do that but there was no evidence previously that there was a problem.

‘Robert was building an extension for the family to live in, but whilst he was building that he wasn’t getting an income from any other building work so it might have been that there were issues over finance or it might have been issues over people living together in confined conditions.

‘I think Robert and Kelly and the children tended to stay in a section of the house and Maureen stayed in another section. I don’t know how Robert used to get on with Kelly but there was never any evidence of any discord. 

‘Maureen has relatives in Manchester and near London and she does spend time with them. I don’t know where she is but I would suspect that she might be with one of her daughters.’

Other neighbours of the family also reacted with shock today at the deaths, with one who did not wish to be named telling MailOnline: ‘This is an awful, awful tragedy.

‘It is a very small community and everyone knew the family, who were lovely. We know the police are not looking for anyone else so it makes it all the more shocking.’ 

Mr Needham and his partner Ms Fitzgibbons (above) lived at his mother's home in West Sussex

Mr Needham and his partner Ms Fitzgibbons (above) lived at his mother's home in West Sussex

Mr Needham and his partner Ms Fitzgibbons (above) lived at his mother’s home in West Sussex

Mr Needham and his partner Ms Fitzgibbons had two children - Ava, five, and Lexi, three

Mr Needham and his partner Ms Fitzgibbons had two children - Ava, five, and Lexi, three

Mr Needham and his partner Ms Fitzgibbons had two children – Ava, five, and Lexi, three

Another neighbour said: ‘I looked out there were upwards of eight or 10 police cars and a couple of paramedics vehicles with both marked and unmarked police cars.

‘A lot of activity around one particular house in the lane (on Sunday night), and from there it just emerged that there had been a major incident at the house.

‘The family are, as I understand it, a close family. The house is owned by the grandmother. After her husband died some years ago the son moved back in with his partner and they, between them, had two children.

‘Recently they had been building a very large extension on the house and a brick wall outside on the frontage to replace an old hedge.

‘The owner of the house, I sometimes would take to the doctors or to the hospital because she is somewhat disabled, she has had joint replacements and suffers somewhat with rheumatism.’

He added: ‘What is sad is that we don’t know who is dead over there. The son he always seemed quite calm, collected, laid back, I would say.

Forensics officers work at the scene in Woodmancote this morning. Sussex Police went to the three-bedroom home at 6.45pm on Sunday after receiving a call raising a welfare concern

Forensics officers work at the scene in Woodmancote this morning. Sussex Police went to the three-bedroom home at 6.45pm on Sunday after receiving a call raising a welfare concern

Forensics officers work at the scene in Woodmancote this morning. Sussex Police went to the three-bedroom home at 6.45pm on Sunday after receiving a call raising a welfare concern

Forensic officers lift up tape in Woodmancote today after the family of four were found dead. Police launched a murder investigation, amid suspicions over a possible murder-suicide

Forensic officers lift up tape in Woodmancote today after the family of four were found dead. Police launched a murder investigation, amid suspicions over a possible murder-suicide

Forensic officers lift up tape in Woodmancote today after the family of four were found dead. Police launched a murder investigation, amid suspicions over a possible murder-suicide

Police tape surrounds the garden of a house in the West Sussex village of Woodmancote this morning. Officers confirmed they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the deaths

Police tape surrounds the garden of a house in the West Sussex village of Woodmancote this morning. Officers confirmed they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the deaths

Police tape surrounds the garden of a house in the West Sussex village of Woodmancote this morning. Officers confirmed they are not seeking anyone else in connection with the deaths

‘The mother, whenever I took her out she would say, ‘he’s done this, he’s done that’ – she was quite proud of the fact that he’s got on and done the building work over there.

‘You can never tell what’s going on behind doors. I’ve never heard any sound of argument coming from the house.’ 

Sussex Police Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman said: ‘This is believed to be an isolated incident contained to one property and in these early stages of the investigation we are not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident.’

Locals were warned of a heightened police presence, and anyone with information was told contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting Operation Cotton.

It is one of a string of murder investigations now under way after multiple domestic killings during the lockdown, with a total of nine people killed in four incidents:

VICTORIA WOODHALL, 31 – BARNSLEY, SOUTH YORKSHIRE, SUNDAY, 5pm

In South Yorkshire, a 40-year-old husband has been charged with murdering his healthcare worker wife aged 31 – with whom it was said he had recently broken up with despite marrying her only six months ago. She was stabbed to death.  

Craig Woodhall, of Barnsley, has been charged with the murder of his wife Victoria Woodhall (pictured together)

Craig Woodhall, of Barnsley, has been charged with the murder of his wife Victoria Woodhall (pictured together)

Craig Woodhall, of Barnsley, has been charged with the murder of his wife Victoria Woodhall (pictured together)

Mother-of-three Victoria Woodhall, 31, was stabbed multiple times on Sunday evening outside her home in the village of Middlecliffe, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire

Mother-of-three Victoria Woodhall, 31, was stabbed multiple times on Sunday evening outside her home in the village of Middlecliffe, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire

Mother-of-three Victoria Woodhall, 31, was stabbed multiple times on Sunday evening outside her home in the village of Middlecliffe, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire

Forensic teams arrive to the scene of the murder yesterday after mother-of-three Mrs Woodhall was stabbed multiple times outside her home in Middlecliffe, near Barnsley

Forensic teams arrive to the scene of the murder yesterday after mother-of-three Mrs Woodhall was stabbed multiple times outside her home in Middlecliffe, near Barnsley

Forensic teams arrive to the scene of the murder yesterday after mother-of-three Mrs Woodhall was stabbed multiple times outside her home in Middlecliffe, near Barnsley

Mother-of-three Victoria Woodhall, who worked at Rotherham General Hospital, was attacked in Windsor Crescent in the Middlecliffe area of Barnsley just before 5pm on Sunday.

Women’s Aid say more resources are needed amid the coronavirus lockdown as domestic abuse cases surge

Northern Ireland’s main domestic violence charity has called for more resources as it braces itself for a surge in the number of cases due to coronavirus.

Women’s Aid urged a ‘guaranteed commitment’ from Stormont’ ministers following restrictions imposed on movement and official encouragement to stay at home.

Police are also geared up for more cases of domestic violence as homes are put under strain by extended periods of self-isolation, a senior commander said.

A Women’s Aid statement said: ‘We need resources and a guaranteed commitment across the whole of the UK to support all victims of domestic violence and abuse.

‘We are in uncharted territory and all domestic violence charities are bracing themselves for a marked increase in numbers of people coming forward.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said victims who are isolated with their abusers during the lockdown sparked by Covid-19 will not be forgotten.

According to Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) statistics, while overall crime has decreased, domestic abuse incidents and crimes with a domestic abuse motivation have increased.

In 2019 there were 31,705 incidents, a rise of 399 (1.3%) on the previous year and one of the highest recorded since 2004.

The number of crimes reached 18,033, an increase of 2,322 (14.8%).

There were 17 domestic abuse incidents and 10 domestic abuse crimes per 1,000 population.

Five of the 11 policing districts showed an increase in incidents and all districts had higher levels of crime.

Today, forklift truck driver Mr Woodhall appeared at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court charged with murder – and was remanded in custody to appear at Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday. 

The couple got married just six months ago but were said to have recently broken up. They have two sons together. 

Gareth Cowley, Mrs Woodhall’s ex-husband and her childhood friend of 20 years, said his 13-year-old daughter, who he had with the NHS nurse, is in ‘bits’ after hearing news of her mother’s death.

Posting on Facebook, he wrote: ‘I can’t believe this has happened. She was the most amazing mum to my daughter even though we weren’t together anymore.

‘When we were married she was absolutely amazing and would do absolutely anything for anyone. When we split we still talked on and off.

‘To go from me and my daughter seeing her yesterday afternoon before she went back home to being told this, I really truthfully don’t know what to say. My daughter is in absolute bits.’

Police said a post-mortem carried out on March 30 found that the cause of death was ‘multiple stab wounds’. 

Tributes have been paid Mrs Woodhall and a GoFundMe page has been set up by her friends, Donna Wetherall and Kelly Sims, to raise money towards funeral costs and to help her children.

Ms Wetherall and Ms Sims said Mrs Woodhall was an operating department practitioner, who was ‘always helping others’ and ‘lived for her children’.

They said: ‘Victoria worked really hard at university, qualifying to become an ODP at the Rotherham General Hospital.

‘She will be deeply missed by friends, family and her children.

‘She was lovely and caring, always helping others, lived for her children, and sadly she was taken away at a young age of 31.’

The page raised nearly £4,000 in 24 hours and the pair who set it up said: ‘Thank you to all that donated, we are overwhelmed by the response. Vicky would truly be amazed.’

At the scene of Mrs Woodhall’s death, white-suited forensic officers wearing face masks could be seen at a property in the street.

A card on a floral tribute attached to the fence outside read: ‘Taken from us. Always in our hearts and thoughts. A loving mummy, daughter and sister. xxxxx.’ 

RUTH WILLIAMS, 67 – CWMBRAN, SOUTH WALES, SATURDAY, 7AM

In South Wales, a husband appeared in court yesterday accused of strangling his wife of 44 years at their semi-detached home.  

Anthony Williams (left), 69, is accused of killing wife Ruth (right), 67, at their semi-detached home in Cwmbran, South Wales, on Saturday, where they had been self isolating

Anthony Williams (left), 69, is accused of killing wife Ruth (right), 67, at their semi-detached home in Cwmbran, South Wales, on Saturday, where they had been self isolating

Anthony Williams (left), 69, is accused of killing wife Ruth (right), 67, at their semi-detached home in Cwmbran, South Wales, on Saturday, where they had been self isolating

Mrs Williams (pictured) was found 'unconscious and unresponsive' at the property in South Wales and died later in hospital of suspected head injuries

Mrs Williams (pictured) was found 'unconscious and unresponsive' at the property in South Wales and died later in hospital of suspected head injuries

Mrs Williams (pictured) was found ‘unconscious and unresponsive’ at the property in South Wales and died later in hospital of suspected head injuries

The couple had been self isolating at their home (file picture) in Cwmbran, South Wales

The couple had been self isolating at their home (file picture) in Cwmbran, South Wales

The couple had been self isolating at their home (file picture) in Cwmbran, South Wales

Tony Williams, 69, is charged with murdering his wife Ruth, 67, a former Asda worker, who was found ‘unconscious and unresponsive’ at the couple’s house.

Mrs Williams, from Cwmbran, died in hospital of suspected strangulation, a court heard.

Ben Williams, defending, said: ‘They were in a loving 44-year marriage – her death is a mystery.’

Williams, a retired construction worker, was remanded in custody and will appear at Cardiff Crown Court today.

Mrs Williams was found unconscious shortly before 7am on Saturday. It is understood she received her injuries hours earlier.

One neighbour described the couple as ‘devoted’ and said Mrs Williams was ‘always really nice and chatty’.

GARY WALKER, 57, CAROLINE WALKER, 50, KATIE WALKER, 24 – HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, HERTFORDSHIRE, SUNDAY, 12.30pm 

Meanwhile a married couple and their daughter were killed after a fire tore through their home in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, on Sunday evening. 

Detectives are investigating the deaths of a father, his wife and their daughter at a house in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire - which is pictured today

Detectives are investigating the deaths of a father, his wife and their daughter at a house in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire - which is pictured today

Detectives are investigating the deaths of a father, his wife and their daughter at a house in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire – which is pictured today

A floral tribute outside the property in Hemel Hempstead today after the house fire on Sunday

A floral tribute outside the property in Hemel Hempstead today after the house fire on Sunday

A floral tribute outside the property in Hemel Hempstead today after the house fire on Sunday

Firefighters smashed the front door down after smoke was spotted pouring out of a window at the end-of-terrace house where draughtsman Gary Walker, 57, his wife Caroline, 50, and their 24-year-old daughter Katie lived.

Fears of a rise in mental health homicides amid strain on NHS  

Fears have been voiced of a spike in the number of mental health-related killings amid the coronavirus crisis.

Julian Hendy, director of Leeds-based national charity hundredfamilies, supports those whose lives have been shattered by psychiatric homicides.

Mr Hendy expressed a concern of a rise in cases as anxiety and isolation take its toll on the vulnerable.

He said: ‘We know from official NHS statistics and from other statistics there are about 100 -120 homicides by people with mental illness in the UK every year – so that’s at least two a week as a baseline.

‘I imagine that is going to increase because of the pressures of coronavirus. I have heard reports personally of people having difficulty accessing services.

‘I think mental health services are trying their best to see people by phone but for people in a crisis that’s often not enough.

‘I’m worried about the risk increasing of self-harm but also harm to others.’

He suggested another problem could be mental health staff being diverted to deal with coronavirus patients.

He added: ‘One of my fears as well is that often the crisis plan for people with serious mental illness is if they are having difficulty to go to A&E or to call the police and that seems to be inappropriate in the current climate.’ 

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Mr Hendy set up hundredfamilies.org following the death of his 75-year-old father Philip Hendy in 2007 at the hands of a psychotic man in Bristol who was well known to mental health services.

All three members of the family were pronounced dead at the scene in Hemel Hempstead.

Police are understood to be considering theories – including one family member killing the other two before setting fire to the £400,000 four-bedroom property.

Neighbour Peter Downer, 67, who raised the alarm, speculated there could have been a trigger caused by the lockdown. 

Mr Downer said: ‘What happened is not sort of in character for them. I reckon something has gone wrong. I don’t think it was accidental.

‘They were such a nice family, it is unbelievable. The coronavirus pandemic could have sparked anxieties in them, you just don’t know.

‘If people have mortgages and you don’t know how secure your job is, you are going to be worried.’ 

He added: ‘We called the fire brigade when I saw smoke coming from the toilet. We were shocked when we heard what happened. They were a quiet family and had lived here for a long time.’

Mr Downer said Gary had worked as a draughtsman, while Caroline had worked at a supermarket. Their daughter Katie, 24, worked with animals. 

This morning, the road was cordoned off and a blue police tent remained erected in the garden. A sole bunch of flowers was left at the entrance to the street.

Mr Walker and his wife had lived at the property for around 30 years. The couple also had a son, Christopher, 28, and another daughter, Sarah, 26. 

Another neighbour said: ‘They were a lovely family. They had been here for about 30 years. It is a terrible tragedy. We don’t know what happened.’ 

Detective Iain MacPherson, of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit, said the deaths were ‘suspicious’ but that they were not seeking anyone else in connection to the incident.

For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local branch or go to www.samaritans.org   

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People CAN go shopping more than once a week says No 10 after minister says single trip is the limit

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Downing Street was forced to clarify the rules on shopping today after a senior Cabinet sowed confusion by suggesting people could only make one weekly trip to stock up. 

Transport Secretary’s Grant Shapps comments during a television interview this morning appeared to put him at odds with the official Government guidance.

The official coronavirus guidance issued by the Government does not set out how often people are allowed to leave their home to go shopping, but recommends that it is ‘as infrequent as possible’.

Mr Shapps made the comments in a BBC interview, after police forces were accused of heavy-handed tactics in enforcing the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Government.

He acknowledged there had been ‘teething problems’ but said people should follow the rules.

‘People know the rules that have been set, try and shop just once a week,’ he told the BBC.

‘Just do the essentials, not everything else.’

But asked about Mr Shapps’ comments a short time later, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The guidance does not specify that, no, the guidance says it should be ”as infrequent as possible”.’

Mr Shapps made the comments in a BBC interview, after police forces were accused of heavy-handed tactics in enforcing the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Government.

Mr Shapps made the comments in a BBC interview, after police forces were accused of heavy-handed tactics in enforcing the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Government.

Mr Shapps made the comments in a BBC interview, after police forces were accused of heavy-handed tactics in enforcing the lockdown restrictions imposed by the Government.

The official coronavirus guidance issued by the Government does not set out how often people are allowed to leave their home to go shopping, but recommends that it is 'as infrequent as possible'.

The official coronavirus guidance issued by the Government does not set out how often people are allowed to leave their home to go shopping, but recommends that it is 'as infrequent as possible'.

The official coronavirus guidance issued by the Government does not set out how often people are allowed to leave their home to go shopping, but recommends that it is ‘as infrequent as possible’.

He went on to say that for some people ‘their judgment will be that that will be once a week, but it’s not what the guidance specifies’.

The spokesman added: ‘The guidance in relation to only making journeys when necessary and shopping as infrequently as possible is very clear.’

Mr Shapps said there had been ‘one or two instances’ of police being overzealous with enforcement measures but forces were generally being ‘sensible’.

He said: ‘I think the police are doing a difficult job.

‘There will be one or two instances where they have perhaps not approached it in the right way but in general, actually, across the country not only are people complying very well but, generally speaking, the police are taking a very sensible approach to it.’

Mr Shapps also said people should not be getting into cars to drive to the countryside to take their daily exercise.

‘The simple thing is, if at all possible, please take exercise close to your home,’ he told the BBC.

‘I’ve got dogs and, rather than put them in the car and drive somewhere with them, it’s about stepping out of the house and walking them around the block, or whatever it requires.’

However, the Government guidance differs from what has actually been made law.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 for England, which were enacted on Thursday giving police powers to enforce rules with fines and even arrests, says: ‘During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.’

A reasonable excuse includes to buy food and exercise.

The legislation does not specify – or limit – how many times per day someone can leave their house. Neither does it forbid people from using cars or any other vehicle in any circumstance.

Source: BBC – Daily Mail

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