Doctors warn that London Underground could be hotbed for coronavirus –

Doctors in the UK have warned that the London Underground could become a catalyst for spreading the coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.

The warning comes after a woman in the British capital became the ninth person to test positively for the virus, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives in China since the outbreak started last month.

Experts believe the Tube and public transport more generally could accelerate the spread of the virus in the city, which has a population of nearly 9 million, although the risk of infection for residents remains low.

Experts have warned that the Tube could accelerate the spread of coronavirus in London. Pic: Getty Images

‘In general, if an initial case is in a densely populated area, then the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission following is higher,’ Oxford University’s Dr Robin Thompson said.

‘This is exacerbated by the fact that London is a transport hub, and the underground could provide a network to spread the virus quickly.

‘As a result, given this case was in London, it might be expected that there is an increased risk posed by this case compared to the others we have seen.’

A woman has tested positive for the virus and is being held at a London hospital. Pic: EPA/ANDY RAIN

Dr Thompson said the risk of COVID-19 spreading in London depended on the ‘number of contacts the infected individual’ had prior to being isolated, and that the risk would remain low as long as the level of human contact had also been low.

Tests for the coronavirus have been carried out on some 1,750 UK residents with over 99% of them returning a negative result, according to the University of Southampton’s Dr Michael Head.

‘Thus, risks to Londoners and UK residents remain low, though people should continue to keep an eye on guidance for the general public,’ he added.

More than 1,100 people have died of the virus so far. Pic: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Witty said: ‘One further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine.

‘This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London.’

There have been more than 44,700 cases of the coronavirus in China to date, with more than 1,100 deaths. A further 400 cases have been confirmed worldwide.

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