GPs must by law now report all cases of COVD-19 to Public Health England (PHE), the government announced last night. PHE explained that a statutory instrument was made into law that adds COVID-19 to the list of notifiable diseases, as well as adding SARS-COV-2 to the list of notifiable causative agents.
The change was achieved by adding COVID-19 and SARS-COV-2 to the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. The effect of this change in law is that, with immediate effect, GPs are legally required to report all cases of COVID-19 to PHE.
England’s chief medical officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty announced early yesterday that an additional 25 patients in England had tested positive for COVID-19 – bringing the number of confirmed cases in England to 105, and the total for the UK to 115.
The CMO said: “Seventeen [of the new cases] were diagnosed who had recently travelled from recognised countries or from recognised clusters which were under investigation. Eight patients were identified in the UK where it is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad. This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun.”
Yesterday also brought the first death in the UK of someone with COVID-19. The 70-year-old woman, BBC reported, had tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday and died after being “in and out of hospital for non-coronavirus reasons”. Professor Chris Whitty said: “I am very sorry to report a patient in England who tested positive for COVID-19 has sadly died. I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their request for privacy is respected.
“The patient, who was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, was an older patient who had underlying health conditions. We believe they contracted the virus in the UK and contact tracing is already underway.”
PHE added that all seven NHS England regions are now reporting on cases of COVID-19; and from today, PHE will start reporting on upper-tier local authority cases.