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Two Labour MPs ditch public engagements after attending coronavirus scare bus summit

Nottingham South MP Lillian Greenwood and Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel both confirmed they were being formally tested for the condition after attending the UK Bus Summit earlier this month.

An attendee at the Westminster event later tested positive for coronavirus, the flu-like epidemic which has been designated as a public health risk by the World Health Organisation since it emerged in China’s Hubei province late last month.

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Mr Sobel’s statement read: “As has been reported, I attended the UK Bus Summit on the February 6, where there was an attendee who has tested positive for coronavirus.

“Whilst I have been informed that I am at very low risk, I have called 111 to be formally assessed.
“As a precaution, we have cancelled all engagements until next Thursday when the 14-day potential incubation period will end.

“If you think you may have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, self-isolate and call 111 for an assessment.”

Ms Greenwood, who spoke at the summit earlier this month, meanwhile confirmed she was “cancelling my public engagements until 20th February” after receiving advice from Public Health England, which is leading the UK’s response to the virus.

While the Labour MP said she was feeling “completely well”, she shared a copy of the letter from PHE, which advises receipients to take “a precautionary approach”.

The health body said: “We are contacting you to inform you that a person with confirmed Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) attended the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Centre London on 6th February 2020.

“One of our main priorities has been to identify any people who we think have been in close contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to provide public health advice, as they may be at slightly increased risk of catching the virus.”

It added: “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.”

Nine patients in the UK have so far tested positive for the coronavirus. Public Health England is currently advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days who experiences flu-like symptoms to stay indoors and contact NHS 111.

The Government has already declared the virus an “imminent threat” to public health, and new powers allocated to ministers this week mean authorities can place new restrictions on any individual considered by health professionals to be at risk of spreading it.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons on Tuesday: “Dealing with this disease is a marathon, not a sprint. The situation will get worse before it gets better. We will be guided by the science. Be in no doubt: we will do everything that is effective to tackle this virus and keep people safe.”

The virus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan, capital of the Hubei province.

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