Expert warns there could be ‘tens of thousands’ of UK coronavirus cases already

There could be up to "tens of thousands" of coronavirus cases in the UK already, it has been claimed.

So far there have been 460 cases and eight deaths in Britain, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday declaring the outbreak a pandemic.

But the BBC's medical correspondent, Fergus Walsh, fears the number could actually be far higher due to a shortfall in testing.

He added that without large testing numbers we will be unable to fully grasp the extent of the outbreak in the UK.

Mr Fergus told Radio 5 Live: “There will be hundreds, probably thousands, potentially tens of thousands of people with the virus.

“And in any health care system – South Korea has done extraordinary efforts and Singapore in terms of upping the number of testings compared to the UK.

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“But that is why we’re going to get this advice very soon about people with respiratory symptoms, a cold or a fever, or flu-like symptoms to stay at home for a week.

“And yesterday it was announced that the number of tests being done will be up from 1,500 to 10,000 a day.

“So we’ll get a clearer picture as to how much the virus is spreading within the UK within a matter of days.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce increased efforts to deal with the outbreak.

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This may include restricting access to public gatherings, with reports suggesting sporting events will be played behind closed doors as soon as the number of confirmed cases reaches 500.

It has also emerged that UK schools could be closed for up to a month over the outbreak.

One teacher told Daily Mirror : “We have had guidance from our head of the academy who has been told to expect at least a week-long closure, possibly two.

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“If schools are closed from mid-March, it wouldn’t make sense to open them up again so close to Easter. We’re preparing for a month at home.

“The home-learning packs have to be all ready by this Friday, with the aim of sending them home with the kids the following Friday.”

  • Coronavirus
  • BBC
  • Boris Johnson
  • Premier League
  • World Health Organisation
  • Pubs

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