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Coronavirus: What Next for Britain? - Tonight

With confirmed cases of the coronavirus here in Britain having doubled in recent days, coming close to double figures, the UK Government has labelled the virus as a "serious and imminent threat" to public health. Fiona Foster investigates if the authorities here are equipped to deal with the challenge.

Now officially named COVID 19, this new coronavirus has infected almost 60,000 across the globe. The overwhelming majority of those are in China, which today recorded its biggest increase in fatalities to date.

The outbreak of the virus in Brighton is linked to one man, Steve Walsh, a so-called Super spreader. Walsh contracted the virus at a business conference in Singapore. After the conference, he travelled to France before returning to Brighton. By the time he had arrived home, it’s thought he had passed it on to at least 11 britons.

“You're not to blame if you are a super spreader. I could contract coronavirus and maybe just spread it to one person, but then they could spread it to 20 people. And we don't truly understand who is or who isn’t a super spreader.”

– Dr Andrea Collins, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Respiratory Medicine at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

While the situation in the UK still seems relatively mild, a survey for the Tonight programme found out that one in 10 people admit they’d already started stockpiling food because of fear of an outbreak.

But the effects of coronavirus aren’t just medical. Some from the Chinese community across the UK feel they have been dealing with reluctance from the general public.

“Now you’re looking at an almost empty restaurant, and I know for a fact that all business in China Town is being affected by people mistakenly relating the virus with the Chinese community in China Town for some reason. For me it verges on a degree of racism.”

– Warren Yeung - Little Yang Sing restaurant, Manchester

"People started using it almost as an excuse to be racist towards Asians. I have had my friend’s been told to stay away from your Asian friend in case she coughs on you, or in case you get the Coronavirus."

– Zoe - Chinese student living in the UK

Coronavirus: What Next For Britain? is at 7:30pm on Thursday 13th February.

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