By Press Association and New Scientist staff
Description:TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images
Three people are being tested for a coronavirus in Edinburgh, and a fourth possible case is thought to be in Glasgow. If these are confirmed, they may become the first known UK cases of the novel coronavirus that has recently emerged in Wuhan, China.
The virus can cause fever, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia. So far, there have been nearly 600 reported cases of infection and 17 deaths. Most cases have occurred in China, but cases have been reported in other countries, including Japan and the US.
The four suspected UK cases are thought to all be Chinese nationals. One of them is a student at the University of Edinburgh.
The situation will be pretty similar in pretty much all UK cities with a large number of Chinese students, says Jürgen Haas, head of infection medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Its not too surprising. My suspicion is that there will probably be many more cases in many other cities in the UK.
In a statement to the UK Parliament today, health minister Matt Hancock said there is an increased likelihood of cases of the new virus in the UK but that the risk to the public is low.
He said that the UKs chief medical officer has concluded that the UK is prepared and well-equipped to deal with any cases that may arise in the country.
Hancock added that only essential travel to Wuhan is advised. Since yesterday, Public Health England officials have been carrying out monitoring of direct flights from Wuhan city and all passengers on direct flights from China will receive information on what to do if they fall ill, he said.
More on these topics: