Saturday, 29 Feb 2020

Coronavirus: Dr Smith says if Britons catch infection early they become immune forever

Dr Chris Smith has told Britons to catch the coronavirus early, because if they recover they will be safe from any further infection. The leading virologist told the Jeremy Vine Show that coronavirus was “more fragile than the norovirus”. This comes as the total number of infections has jumped to 63,922 cases, according to the National Health Commission.

Chinese officials also confirmed that six health workers have died and 1,716 have been infected since the outbreak.

More than 1,300 people are now known to have died from the virus.

A dramatic spike in the number of cases in China was connected to a new broader definition being used to diagnose people, according to Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies programme.

Dr Chris Smith told Jeremy Vine that the coronavirus has a “different structure” to the norovirus.

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He said it was “fragile” meaning once you catch it and recover “you’ll be immune from it”.

Speaking on Channel 5, Dr Smith said: “The norovirus is the king of the infectious viruses.

“Each millilitre of what leaves your body either upwards or downwards when you have norovirus, there is enough noravirus in there to infect the entire world population multiple times over.

“It is really really infectious. It is also really robust as a virus.

“It can sit in the environment for weeks without losing its activity. Coronavirus has an envelope, that means it is quite fragile.

“Its infectivity is lower than norovirus, the amount you produce is lower than norovirus, the mutation rate is lower than norovirus.

“If you catch this, and you recover from it, you will be immune from it. With noravirus you could get it again within just six weeks.”

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In the UK, panic around the coronavirus spread after it was found that Britain’s ninth confirmed patient had attended a central London summit in the days before going to hospital.

The Chinese woman was among 250 guests at the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre in Westminster on Monday – three days before heading to Lewisham Hospital in an Uber.

Public Health England has since sent a letter to everyone who attended the event, warning them of the risks of contamination.

They said: “While the degree of contact you may have had with the case at the summit is unlikely to have been significant, we are taking a precautionary approach and informing you.”

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