THREE suspected cases of the deadly Wuhan novel coronavirus in Surrey turned out to be false alarms, hospital bosses confirmed.
The three people all presented with suspected symptoms to doctors at either Ashford Hospital or St Peter’s Hospitals last week, a meeting heard.
It was not revealed in which hospital the patients were tested.
As part of procedures around treating flu-type symptoms the patients were asked if they had travelled abroad. When they said they had been to China tests were taken for coronavirus and they were sent home immediately.
All three have now been reported as well and the tests did not show they had the disease.
The three are thought to be among the 130 UK tests carried out as reported by Public Health England.
The three cases in north west Surrey emerged in a public board meeting of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on Thursday, January 30.
Chinese authorities closed all transport hubs including airports, railway and bus stations on January 23 after an outbreak of the virus.
Suzanne Rankin, chief executive of the trust, told board members about the three suspected cases.
She said: “They presented late last week before the travel ban really impacted.”
Dr David Fluck, medical director, said the trust had a process in place to deal with patients who present with suspected symptoms.
Symptoms are similar to flu and as part of routine procedures nurses and doctors ask patients if they have travelled abroad recently.
If they say one of the countries currently affected by the virus a process is then followed.
If the patient is unwell with symptoms they are kept in isolation and healthcare professionals will wear protective clothing.
If they are well but have some symptoms they are told to go home and stay indoors until test results are back and a confirmation is given.
He told board members there had been three suspected cases dealt with by the Trust but “all of them have been well and have been sent home”.
Dr Fluck said after the meeting that anyone with suspected symptoms should call 111 immediately and take advice from healthcare professionals.
Wuhan novel coronavirus is a new respiratory illness not previously seen in humans.
The risk of getting the illness in the UK is said to be low and there are currently no confirmed cases in the UK, according to Public Health England.
As of January 30 the reported death toll had risen to 170 with around 7,711 confirmed cases in China.
It is thought to have spread to 15 other countries.
According to NHS guidance, symptoms of Wuhan coronavirus include feeling tired, difficulty breathing, a high temperature and a cough.
There is no specific treatment, but symptoms can be relieved.
NHS guidance says because it is a new illness, experts do not know how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all travel to Hubei Province in China where the outbreak of the virus started and to the rest of mainland China.
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals are currently dealing with an unrelated outbreak of the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.
The meeting was told visiting times have been restricted to exceptional circumstances and staff have been on duty at key points of access to wards to check where people are going in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Bosses said a hospital hotline set up for relatives wanting updates on patients has been well used.
The hotline is open from 8am to 8pm on 01932 723553.