The NHS in England has announced that it is piloting home testing for coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK went up to 13 on Sunday (23 February).
Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, said this would help limit the spread of the infection.
But those concerned are advised to contact NHS 111 and the public cautioned to follow public health advice by washing their hands, covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and disposing of tissues in bins straightaway.
The news comes as the Telegraph reported that ‘drive-thru’ testing for coronavirus on the NHS would also start this Monday.
WHY IT MATTERS
Over the weekend, more than 100 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Italy, where the government announced that it would introduce a suite of measures to halt its spread.
More than 50,000 people in 11 towns were put under lockdown, while the last days of the Venice Carnival and shows that were part of Fashion week in Milan were also cancelled.
Economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, however, said the EU had “full confidence in the Italian authorities and the decisions they are taking”, as reported by the Guardian. “We share concern for possible contagion (but) there is no need to panic,” Gentiloni added.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan suspended all travel to and from Iran, while Pakistan closed its land border with the country. According to the same publication, Iran's deputy health minister said on Monday that 12 people had died from the virus.
THE LARGER PICTURE
Earlier this month, experts met at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Switzerland to identify the priorities needed to stop the outbreak, which director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said was a “test of solidarity – political, financial and scientific”.
“We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems,” he continued. “Research is an integral part of the outbreak response.”
On the other side, the tech world is working to introduce new tools that would monitor the spread of the disease and help patients, as recently reported by MobiHealthNews.
On Friday (21 February), HIMSS Media editors released a new podcast looking at health tech’s role in the response of the world to the novel coronavirus, which you can find out more about here.
Editor's note, 24 February: This article has been updated to reflect the correct death toll reported in Iran by the government as of Monday, 24 February.