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Coronavirus UK: Four ways to avoid catching the deadly virus on the Tube

Coronavirus cases in the UK reached nine last week after a woman who flew into London from China tested positive for the virus. Eight of the nine UK patients who have been receiving treatment were discharged at the weekend after twice testing negative for the virus, but experts have warned the number of cases of coronavirus in the UK is set to rise.

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In some places around the world, mainly China where the virus originated, the virus has proven deadly.

Latest figures revealed the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China reached at least 1,868.

Only one death has been confirmed in Europe – an 80-year-old man from China’s Hubei province who travelled to France – health officials in the UK are keen to keep the virus contained.

The UK Chief Medical officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate, but the risk to individuals remains low.

Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.

But the NHS advises people call 111 if they’ve been:

  • To Wuhan or Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days (even if you do not have symptoms)
  • To other parts of China, including Macau and Hong Kong, in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
  • To Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
  • In close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus

You should avoid going to a GP surgery or hospital, call 111, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people.

People are also being advised to minimise their risk of catching the virus at home.

According to Dr Roger Henderson, “an almost perfect network for a viral infection to spread through” is the Tube in London, and writing for The Spectator he offered four tips to avoid catching the virus on the London Underground.

His tips include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Carrying hand sanitiser
  • Use cashless payment
  • Avoid holding on to the escalator rail

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He said: “Regular hand washing is vital both before and after travelling. Use hot water and soap for at least 30 seconds and carry a small tube of hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol with you to use after travelling on buses or the Tube if you have been touching hard surfaces such as hand rails.

“It appears that COVID-19 [the strain of coronavirus infecting people] can remain live for up to two hours after contact so think about using cashless payment and avoid holding the escalator rail if safe to do so when on the Underground system.”

Many people have resorted to wearing face masks to prevent catching the virus, but how effective actually are these?

Dr Henderson added: “If you want to wear a face mask – and people wearing these are now starting to appear on the streets here – then do so but these are more likely to give you a sense of psychological protection rather than any actual physical help.

“Outside of a clinical setting there is little evidence that the usual looser-fitting masks that most people buy have widespread benefit in reducing infection rates, and they also need to be changed very frequently, disposed of safely and used in addition to strict hygiene practices.”

Because COVID-19 is a new illness, experts don’t know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

But similar viruses spread in cough droplets.

The NHS offers other ways to avoid catching or spreading germs. It says:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

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