Coronavirus: healthcare worker at emergency department among confirmed cases

Hospital in West Sussex informs fellow staff of diagnosis, but all services remain open

Worthing Hospital in West Sussex, where a healthcare worker in the emergency department is among eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK
Worthing Hospital in West Sussex, where staff received a memo confirming a healthcare
worker colleague had tested positive for Covid-19  Picture: PA

A healthcare worker from the emergency department at Worthing Hospital is among eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

Staff at the West Sussex hospital received a memo on 11 February telling them of the diagnosis.

The hospital is about 11 miles from Brighton, where two doctors have also been confirmed to have coronavirus.

Hospital still operating as normal

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust deputy chief executive and chief medical officer George Findlay confirmed all services at the hospital, including the emergency department, surgery and outpatients, were still operating normally.

‘As soon as it was confirmed that a healthcare worker from our A&E department was one of the eight coronavirus cases, Public Health England (PHE) immediately began contacting all patients and staff who came into close contact with them,’ he said. ‘They are now being advised on the precautions they need to take.’

Healthcare facilities affected due to confirmed cases

Other affected healthcare settings in nearby Brighton include:

  • The County Oak Medical Centre and a second branch of the surgery, which have closed following two confirmed coronavirus cases – a locum doctor and a GP from the practice.
  • Patcham Nursing Home, now ‘closed to all visitors’ after one of the infected GPs visited a patient there about a week ago.

The Haven surgery in Brighton also stated it is closed ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’, although there has been no confirmation that this is linked to the outbreak.

A worker in protective clothing cleaning the County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton
A worker in protective clothing cleans the County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton  ​​​​​Picture: PA

Brighton and Hove City Council confirmed the County Oak general practices would reopen soon, following deep cleaning.

A spokesperson for Patcham Nursing Home said no one at the home was unwell and the closure was a precaution.

Tracing those who had close contact with infected doctors

As of 12 February, a total of 1,758 people in the UK had been tested for coronavirus, of which eight tested positive, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Announcing new legal powers on 10 February, the DHSC said people with coronavirus can now be forcibly quarantined and put into isolation if they pose a threat to public health.

PHE emeritus medical director Paul Cosford said the agency was working to trace the small number of people who had contact with the two doctors.

'I should say that the people who are of concern are those who have had very close contact with somebody with coronavirus, face-to-face contact or within a two-metre range for 15 minutes or more,’ he said.

The new coronavirus has been officially named Covid-19, which represents the words ‘corona’, ‘virus’ and ‘disease’ and the year that it emerged.

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