Five more coronavirus patients die in Wales

Six more coronavirus patients die in Scotland as Wales announces five more victims – taking UK’s death toll to 435 with more than 8,200 cases of the killer infection

  • Official Government figures show 8,227 Britons have caught COVID-19 
  • England and Northern Ireland have yet to update their daily figures 
  • Do you have a coronavirus story? Email [email protected] 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Six more coronavirus patients have died in Scotland and a further five victims in Wales have been announced, taking the UK death toll to 435.

Both countries now have a death toll of 22 against England’s 386 and Northern Ireland’s five.

Public Health Wales also confirmed 150 more cases of the life-threatening infection, meaning 628 patients have now been struck down. 

Official figures show 8,227 Britons have caught COVID-19, with 6,843 in England, 584 in Scotland and 172 in Northern Ireland.

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to update their daily figures today – but hundreds more cases and deaths are expected.  

Government scientists admit the true size of the outbreak is likely to be in the region of the 400,000 mark – 52 times bigger than figures show.

The UK’s controversial decision to only test patients in hospital means only a fraction of cases are being officially diagnosed. 

It comes after it was revealed today that Prince Charles has the coronavirus and may have been contagious just 24 hours after last seeing the Queen. 

The Prince of Wales, 71, is in self-isolation on the Balmoral estate in Scotland with his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. 

In other developments to the coronavirus outbreak today:

  • A nurse in her twenties at a busy London hospital where coronavirus patients are being treated killed herself at work; 
  • NHS medics could be forced to quit if the government fails to provide adequate protective equipment for those heading into a ‘warzone’;   
  • Shoppers were pictured squeezing together at supermarkets up and down the country, ignoring social distancing rules from the government;
  • The housing market has been thrown into chaos with the government urging people not to move homes and banks stopping mortgage lending;
  • Sadiq Khan defied Boris Johnson as he warned Tube services will be cut back even further because one in three staff are now off sick;
  • Madrid and London are facing worse coronavirus outbreaks than Lombardy in Italy with deaths doubling every two days;
  • Spain overtook China to record the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll – only Italy has announced more;
  • Germany’s rate of new coronavirus infections dropped from 21 per cent to 15 per cent;
  • A nurse treating patients with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus said red eyes may be a sign that someone is infected.

Charles was last seen with the Queen on March 9 at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey and saw her again on March 12 – 24 hours before his doctor claims he became contagious

Scotland’s six latest deaths come as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured yesterday, voiced her concerns about the rapidly rising numbers of coronavirus patients

Scotland’s six latest deaths come as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon voiced her concerns about the rapidly rising numbers of coronavirus patients.

Speaking at a press conference at in Edinburgh, she said there were 51 people in intensive care who have either been diagnosed with the killer virus or are suspected to have it. 

The country currently has 584 recorded cases, but Health Secretary Jeane Freeman believes the true number affected could be more than 2,500. 

Dr Robin Howe, incident director for the novel coronavirus outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: ‘150 new cases have tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 628, although the true number of cases is likely to be higher. 

‘Five further deaths have been reported to us of people who had tested positive for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the number of deaths in Wales to 22.’

Vaughan Gething, Wales’s health minister, fears Wales will suffer the most in the UK because of its older population.

He said today: ‘My bigger concern is actually that we potentially have a larger impact in Wales because Wales compared to other UK nations is typically older, sicker with more health challenges and poorer.’

Currently The Aneurin Bevan health board has the highest number of confirmed cases at 309. Cardiff and the Vale follows with 125 confirmed cases.

The names of the hospitals in which the latest COVID-19 patients lost their lives has not been revealed by either Wales or Scotland. 

The overall UK death toll will become clearer this afternoon, following the largest jump in deaths in a single day yesterday.

Fatalities have risen almost six-fold in the space of a week, with just 71 deaths recorded last Tuesday. 

Almost 1,500 people were recorded as COVID-19 positive yesterday. But some academics believe almost half of the country’s population could already be infected.

A controversial Oxford study posed the theory that the virus was circulating in the UK by mid-January, around two weeks before the first reported case and a month before the first reported death. 

MailOnline has plotted Charles movements over the past fortnight, where he is likely to have met hundreds of people

Government officials are running of the model that for every one death, there is 1,000 people with coronavirus, which would mean there are 40,000 people either suffering with or carrying the virus.

Prince Albert, Boris Johnson and the Queen: Who Prince Charles has met over the past month and where

Prince Charles has carried out a number of engagements over the past fortnight at which he has had contact with possibly hundreds of people.

Here are his movements around London over the last two weeks:

  • March 9 – Westminster Abbey: Charles and Camilla join senior members of the Royal Family including the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and other dignitaries including Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the annual Commonwealth Service
  • March 9 – Marlborough House, London: Charles and Camilla are guests of Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland at an event to mark Commonwealth Day at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
  • March 10 – Kings Place: Charles sits opposite Prince Albert of Monaco, who later tests positive for coronavirus, at a WaterAid charity event
  • March 11 – London Palladium: Charles, the president of the Prince’s Trust, meets award winners and the charity’s supporters including Ant and Dec at the annual Prince’s Trust Awards
  • March 12: Buckingham Palace – Investitures include making Baroness Benjamin a Dame. Charles also meets the Queen in the morning.
  • March 12 – Mansion House: Meets London Lord Mayor William Russell and the High Commissioner for Australia George Brandis at a dinner in aid of the Australian bushfire relief and recovery effort
  • Since March 12 – Locations TBC – Charles has a number of private meetings with Highgrove and Duchy individuals, all of whom have now been informed.

The massive difference between officials’ on-record estimates and the number of cases confirmed by the Department of Health has prompted scrutiny of the government’s testing regime. 

Until mass testing is conducted, estimations are the government’s choice of measuring the epidemic, for which they have been blasted for continuously. 

Today the shocking revelation that Prince Charles has coronavirus has rocked Britain. 

A spokesman for Clarence House, Charles’ official home in London, said Charles has ‘mild symptoms’ that started over the weekend.

He had fallen ill after meeting coronavirus-stricken Prince Albert of Monaco, who tested positive five days ago after he sat opposite the Prince of Wales at a WaterAid event in London on March 10.    

But Charles’ spokesman said it was impossible to say where he caught it from because of the large number of public engagements he has carried out in ‘recent weeks’. 

A royal source said Charles’ doctor’s most conservative estimate was that the prince was contagious on March 13 – 24 hours after he last saw his mother. 

A Buckingham Palace spokesman has said: ‘Her Majesty remains in good health. The Queen is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare’.

MailOnline has plotted the prince’s movement over the past fortnight – the incubation period for coronavirus – finding that he attended at least six public engagements meeting hundreds of people including a string of Britain’s biggest stars at his annual Prince’s Trust awards. 

The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus, the Clarence House spokesperson said.

‘In accordance with Government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland. The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing,’ they added.  

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?

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. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came 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 Wuhan, 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 identical 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. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.

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. It can also live on surfaces, such as plastic and steel, for up to 72 hours, meaning people can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces.

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. 

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 will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.

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.

Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why. 

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 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.

Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.

However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.

Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.

Can the virus be cured? 

The COVID-19 virus cannot 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 was declared a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’. 

Previously, the UN agency said 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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