Confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the UK: expert commentary from our members

31 January 2020


Following the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of the novel coronavirus outbreak as a global public health emergency, and the confirmation of the first cases within the UK, our members are continuing to provide expert commentary and clear scientific analysis on the latest developments.

Here, Professor Paul Hunter (Professor in Medicine, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia) and Professor Ian Jones (Professor of Virology, University of Reading), explain more, based on the information currently available.

Professor Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, said:

“The report of the first two cases diagnosed positive for 2019-nCoV in the UK is not surprising and was almost inevitable. The Chief Medical Officer’s statement gives no information on where these two members of the same family acquired their infection. The two cases are members of the same family, but no information has been released about whether both cases will have been infected simultaneously or whether one would have passed the infection to the other.

 “The NHS is well able to nurse people with this novel coronavirus as it has successfully and safely managed a number of cases of both SARS and MERS in the past. With the information available it is not possible to judge what risk, if any, there may be of spread within the community.”

Professor Ian Jones, Professor of Virology, University of Reading, said:

“With cases occurring in many countries, it was unlikely the UK would escape coronavirus infection, so the current cases were to some degree expected. As these cases have been caught early, the possibility of further spread is minimal. For the majority of those who contract this virus the outcome will be a mild respiratory illness from which they will recover. It is a situation that can be managed and should not cause undue alarm.”

Keep up to date with our members’ expert commentary, as provided to the Science Media Centre.

Image: Naeblys/iStock.