UK prisoner tested for coronavirus was transferred from Thai jail

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One of two prisoners being tested for coronavirus in Oxfordshire had recently been transferred from a jail in Thailand, Sky News understands.

The men are inmates at HMP Bullingdon, near Bicester, and are being kept in isolation in their cells, with access also restricted to the wing of the complex where they are being held.

The prison has capacity for 1,114 inmates – including those on remand, those who have been sentenced, and young adults aged 18 to 21 – and remains operational, with Public Health England on site helping to manage the situation.

The County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton has been closed after being linked to a coronavirus case
Brighton health centre disinfected

As the two prisoners were being tested, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the illness would now be called COVID-19.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the first vaccine could be ready in 18 months “so we have to do everything today using available weapons to fight this virus”.

There have been a number of other coronavirus developments, including:

  • The death toll in mainland China reached 1,110 on Tuesday
  • That came after 94 deaths in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, where the death toll is 1,068
  • Hubei also reported 1,638 new cases, taking the total to 44,276 across mainland China
  • There have still only been two deaths outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines
  • As of 2pm on Tuesday, the UK had tested 1,358 people – 244 more than Monday – with eight positive
  • The Westerdam cruise ship, where no coronavirus cases have been confirmed, was turned away from Thailand on Tuesday after the Philippines and Japan refused to let it dock
  • Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that the virus was “from an economic perspective, already bigger than SARS”
  • Postal operators in the US, China and elsewhere have said the suspension of flights is having a major impact on global flows of letters and parcels

Eight people in the UK have been confirmed as having coronavirus, with the last four testing positive on Monday.

More from Coronavirus

They are linked to Hove businessman Steve Walsh, who is believed to be a “superspreader” after 11 people he stayed in a French chalet with contracted the virus after he was infected in Singapore.

Steve Marsh, who is believed to be a coronavirus superspreader, is an assistant cub scout leader
Image: Steve Marsh, who is believed to be a coronavirus superspreader, is an assistant cub scout leader

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that the government is launching a capital fund to support any urgent work the NHS needs to carry out to prevent the virus spreading, such as isolation facilities.

He said the NHS has been working hard to contact trace anybody infected patients have been around, and said that was how five people in the UK and five others in France, linked to Mr Walsh, were found.

Professor Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director of Public Health England (PHE), said “contact tracing” run by PHE was “working very well”.

He added: “I should say that the people who are of concern are those who have had very close contact with somebody with coronavirus – face-to-face contact or within a two-metre range for 15 minutes or more.”

PHE is now working to trace about a dozen people who were in contact with two doctors, including a Brighton GP, who were among the four new cases announced on Monday.

Two UK prisoners being tested for coronavirus

Two prisoners are being tested for coronavirus in Oxfordshire. The men are inmates at Bullingdon prison, near Bicester, and are being kept in isolation in their cells, Sky News can confirm. Access is being restricted to one wing where the prisoners are.

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