Labour MP to be tested for coronavirus


A Labour MP is to be tested for coronavirus after going to a conference attended by a person who later tested positive for the disease.

Alex Sobel, the MP for Leeds North West, said he had been reassured he is at “very low risk” but will be formally assessed by medical officials.

He attended the UK Bus Summit at the QEII Conference Centre in London and later learned a person at the event had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

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A second Labour politician, the MP for Nottingham South, Lilian Greenwood, was also at the conference.

Both MPs have said they are well but will cancel public engagements until 20 February as a precaution to prevent the potential spread of the outbreak.

“I attended the UK bus summit on the 6th Feb, where there was an attendee who has tested positive for coronavirus,” Mr Sobel said in a statement.

“Whilst I have been informed that I am at very low risk, I have called 111 to be formally assessed.”

He added: “As a precaution, we have cancelled all engagements until next Thursday when the 14-day potential incubation period will end.”

Ms Greenwood said she was feeling “completely well” but was cancelling public engagements “to be extra-cautious”.

Transport Times, the organiser of the conference, emailed attendees on Thursday informing them a person confirmed to be suffering from coronavirus – also known as Covid-19 – had been at the event on 6 February.

The patient has not been named at this time.

Public Health England (PHE) has reported nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK so far.

“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,” said Dr Yimmy Chow, a consultant in health protection at PHE.

“While the degree of contact conference delegates may have had with the case is unlikely to have been significant, we have taken a precautionary approach and informed them of the situation.”

PHE told attendees at the conference they did not need to take any action if they felt well but should stay indoors, avoid contact with others, and call NHS 111 if they developed symptoms for the virus.

Mr Sobel has said he was not exhibiting any symptoms.

The announcement came as reports on social media suggested a person who fell ill on a flight to the UK on Friday may have had symptoms of coronavirus.

United Airlines confirmed it offered assistance to the passenger at Heathrow Airport but did not reveal details of their symptoms.

Meanwhile, a Channel 4 employee is also among those being tested for coronavirus after feeling unwell following a trip to Asia.

“On Thursday, a member of staff at Channel 4 who had travelled to Asia within the last month felt unwell,” a Channel 4 spokesperson said.

“As a precautionary measure, they decided to seek medical advice and, in line with the latest public health advice regarding the coronavirus, they were taken to hospital for a precautionary test.

“We have informed our staff of this and continue to follow all the latest public health guidance.”

Sir Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive, said on Thursday that “many more” people may need to self-isolate to contain the outbreak.

The Department of Health has tested nearly 3,000 people for coronavirus in the UK, as of 2pm on Friday, with all but nine of those tests coming back negative.

In China, the number of deaths from coronavirus has reached 1,380, with more than 63,000 recorded infections, in figures announced early on Friday morning.

Additional reporting by PA

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